In June 2020, Rolls-Royce and Boom announced they would collaborate to advance engine studies for the supersonic Overture aircraft. Recently, news emerged that Rolls-Royce has pulled out of the project, declaring that supersonic aviation is not its priority. Let’s look at what this means for Boom
At the start of the Boom collaboration, Rolls-Royce Director of Strategy – Civil Aerospace, Simon Carlisle, said:
“We share a strong interest in supersonic flight and in sustainability strategies for aviation with Boom. We’re now building on our valuable experience in this space and our previous work together to further match and refine our engine technology for Boom’s Overture.”
Rolls-Royce was an obvious engine partner for Boom, having powered Concorde with four of its Olympus 593 engines more than 50 years ago. Perhaps the engine manufacturer is still bruised from that project because it has
lost its appetite for supersonic propulsion, walking away from supersonic commercial aircraft, at least for now.
First reported by Aviation International News on Tuesday, September 6th, Rolls-Royce said, “We’ve completed our contract with Boom and delivered various engineering studies for their supersonic Overture program.” “After careful consideration, Rolls-Royce has determined that the commercial aviation supersonic market is not currently a priority for us and, therefore, will not pursue further work on the program at this time. It has been a pleasure to work with the Boom team and we wish them every success in the future.”
With no other engine partners in place, Boom will need to find a replacement partner to meet its first-flight target of 2026 and Overture’s 2029 entry into service. Indeed, a lot is riding on the company’s ability to deliver… A few weeks ago, American Airlines announced it had paid a non-refundable deposit on an order for up to 20 Overture aircraft, with an option for an additional 40. American Airlines’ order goes into the book along with committments from United Airlines and Japan Airlines. Japan Airlines was so confident in Boom’s promise that it placed a pre-order for 20 Overtures in 2017. United’s order is for 15 aircraft with an option for 35 more, which Boom says brings the total Overture orders to 130.
At this year’s Farnborough Airshow, Boom revealed its latest designs for Overture, surprising commentators with its shift to a four-engine design. The thinking was that by using four smaller engines Overture could reach Mach 1.7 with existing engine technology. Now it just has to find a partner with the appetite and the resources to make the supersonic vision come to life in only a few short years. Overture is designed to carry between 65 – 80 passengers at a cruising altitude of 60,000 feet (18,300 meters) at Mach 1.7 (1,300 miles per hour). It just doesn’t have an engine yet… although Boom says it will have that sorted out by the end of this year.
What do you think of this latest development for Boom? Will it follow the same fate as its former rival Aerion? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment.