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Fri, Sep 23, 2022

Supersonic Aircraft Still Uninteresting to Aviation Manufacturers

Boom Supersonic May Have Trouble Sourcing New Engine Supplier

In an interesting bout of industry negativity, a number of blue-chip aircraft engine manufacturers have failed to show much interest in supersonic civil aircraft development. 

The idea wasn’t entirely spontaneous, being rooted in the recent cancellation of Rolls-Royce’s decision to end development of a supersonic civil engine for Boom Supersonic. Boom, a small startup manufacturer, might see their plans stillborn without a suitable replacement engine… and pickings are slim. Evidently, Boom Supersonic’s aircraft, the Overture, won’t find a ready solution without the previous Rolls-Royce engine. There aren’t many enterprises capable of taking on the tremendous project, leaving the best and the biggest of the industry as essentially the only option. 

Unanimously, other vendors showed little to no interest in the prospect. Understandable, given the outcome of the last civilian supersonic aircraft. Concorde’s well-known market failure against cheaper, slower aircraft seems to have left a sting in the industry, scaring off future investment in the concept. Pratt & Whitney joined with the others in disappointing supersonic hopefuls in saying that supersonic engines were simply outside its core business strategy. 

Boom Supersonic has remained undaunted by the development, however. Like any startup, optimism is in plentiful supply, though the summer has seen no shortage of good news around the company’s water cooler too. American Airlines agreed to purchase Overture aircraft, placing a deposit for 20 last August. In July, Boom revealed a collaboration deal with Northrop Grumman to design a special mission variant of the aircraft for military use, at the same time announcing agreements with Safran’s landing system subsidiary for gear. 

Like any aircraft development process, there are many factors in play, and the success of the Overture project - even the idea of a commercially viable supersonic passenger aircraft - could monopolize its niche success as the only plane of its kind on the market…or become another cautionary tale for freshman business majors. 

FMI: www.boomsupersonic.com

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