No Supersonic Boom for Virgin Atlantic

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The group Virgin Atlantic dropped options to acquire Overture of Boom Supersonicbringing a (temporary?) blow to the dreams of those who would like to see a ” baby-concorde » return to the transatlantic market.

As early as 2016, the boss of the British company Richard Branson bet on the supersonic, signing a letter of intent for the purchase of ten planes from the company Boom Supersonic, planes then presented as smaller and faster than the Concorde. In October 2020, the XB-1 prototype ofOverture, which was then to take off a year later and carry “before 2030” around 75 passengers in 3h45 between Paris and Montreal for example. The start-up had then recorded some 130 “orders and pre-orders”, from the Virgin Group therefore and from Japan Airlinesfollowed by American Airlines And United Airlines.

But according to The Telegraph, Richard Branson no longer believes in it: the Virgin Group has allowed its option to buy Boom Supersonic planes to expire, even if daily sources mention a continuous “monitoring” of the development of the device. The manufacturer stresses for its part that Virgin had “no firm commitment”.

Overture, a commercial aircraft, was to carry between 65 and 88 passengers depending on the arrangements of the airlines, at a maximum speed of Mach 1.7 (only above the oceans). In theory reducing the flight time between New York and London to 3h30 instead of 7, between Los Angeles and Sydney to 6h45 instead of 15, or between Seattle and Tokyo to 4h30 instead of 8h30. The engines were to be signed Rolls Royce, but the latter gave up, explaining that the supersonic commercial aviation market “is not currently a priority”. Its first take-off is expected in 2029, seven years later than initially announced.

It should however be remembered that Richard Branson had unveiled his own supersonic project in August 2020, much smaller and faster (between 9 and 19 passengers at Mach 3).

But since then, the project has evolved considerably, Boom Supersonic has postponed the expected date of first flight to 2027, and above all, environmental concerns have grown: any mention of sustainability in these projects has become synonymous with greenwashing. A Boom spokesperson still said, “ We look forward to continued discussions on sustainable supersonic travel »…

John Walker Avatar