Supersonic passenger flights will return almost 20 years after Concorde left – with flight times from London to New Jersey halved | World news


A US airline has revealed plans to bring back supersonic transatlantic flights by the end of the decade.

United Airlines has tentatively agreed to buy jets that can fly at Mach 1.7 – twice as fast as modern commercial aircraft.

The company will purchase 15 “Overture” aircraft from the US start-up Boom Supersonic – as soon as they meet “demanding safety, operational and sustainability requirements”.

Flight times could be cut in half – a trip from London to Newark, New Jersey took three and a half hours.

Artist’s impression of the United Airlines Boom Supersonic Overture Jet. Image: AP

Currently, a flight between these two locations would take almost seven hours.

The record for the fastest flight by a commercial airline between New York and London is two hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds – set by Concorde in 1996.

Concorde was decommissioned in October 2003 after British Airways and Air France blamed a drop in demand and rising maintenance costs.

The last Concorde went three years after one Air France Concorde flight 4590 crashed into a hotel shortly after take-off in Paris and claimed the lives of 109 people on board and four other people on the ground in 2000.

Mike Leskinen, United’s vice president of corporate development and a former aerospace analyst, said the boom jet will be 75% cheaper than the Concorde thanks to advances in engines and lighter fuselages.

Those savings could allow United to offer both premium and economy seating – although a final decision has not yet been made on cabin layout, Leskinen said.

The last flight of an Air France Concorde supersonic aircraft ends at Karlsruhe-Baden-Baden Airport in Germany.
The last flight of an Air France Concorde supersonic aircraft ends at Karlsruhe-Baden-Baden Airport in Germany. Image: AP

The 88-seat aircraft will be the first zero-carbon, supersonic aircraft powered by “pure sustainable aviation fuel,” United said.

A prototype is scheduled to make its first journey through the sky this year or early 2022.

Flight trials are scheduled to begin in 2026 in the hope that passengers will be carried on commercial flights in 2029.

The company declined to discuss financial details, but a senior executive said a bail had been posted.

The deal includes an option on an additional 35 aircraft.

United CEO Scott Kirby said, “United continues on its path to building a more innovative, sustainable airline, and today’s technological advances are making it possible to include supersonic aircraft.

“Our mission has always been to connect people, and now, in partnership with Boom, we will be able to do that on an even greater scale.”

Meanwhile, Boom Supersonic’s founder and CEO Blake Scholl described the deal as a “significant step” in “creating a more accessible world.”

Virgin Galactic has unveiled designs for a supersonic passenger jet with the ability to fly three times the speed of sound last August.

The Delta Wing jet has a top speed of 2,300 mph (3,700 km / h) and could fly to New York in less than two hours – but could only carry between nine and 19 passengers.

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