United Airlines hopes to offer supersonic service by the end of this decade through a commercial agreement with aerospace company Boom Supersonic, the carrier announced on Thursday.
Per a commercial agreement between the two companies, United will buy 15 of Boom’s Overture aircraft, which will be able to fly at 1.7 times the speed of sound, once they are operational and approved for service. At that speed, a flight between Newark and London would take about three and a half hours, and the journey from San Francisco to Tokyo would take about six hours, according to United.
Boom currently projects the aircraft will be ready to fly by 2026 and able to carry passengers by 2029. United’s agreement, which includes the option for 35 additional aircraft on top of the 15, is dependent on Boom meeting “United’s demanding safety, operating and sustainability requirements,” and United will work with Boom to ensure those requirements are met, according to the carrier.
On the sustainability front, Boom is designing the Overture aircraft to run fully on sustainable aviation fuel, and Boom also plans to work with United to accelerate the fuel’s production to ensure greater supplies.
Supersonic commercial flights have not been available since British Airways and Air France stopped using the Concorde in 2003. Boom, one of several companies working to restore supersonic commercial air service, is working with the U.S. Air Force for government use of its aircraft as well and counts American Express Ventures, Emerson Collective, Bessemer Venture Partners and Prime Movers Lab among its investors. Japan Airlines also has invested in Boom in recent years.