U.S. Air Force, Boom Partner On Overture Supersonic Airliner


The U.S. Air Force has awarded a contract to Boom Supersonic aimed at accelerating research and development for the company’s Overture supersonic airliner model. Granted through the AFVentures arm of the Air Force’s AFWERX program, the Strategic Funding Increase (STRATFI) contract covers three years and is valued at up to $60 million. The Air Force also awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 2 contract to Boom in September 2020.

“We are proud of the Air Force’s continued support and recognition of Boom’s leadership in supersonic flight—and we see our partnership as mutually beneficial,” said Boom founder and CEO Blake Scholl. “With STRATFI, we’re able to collaborate with the Air Force on the unique requirements and needs for global military missions, ultimately allowing Boom to better satisfy the needs of the Air Force where it uses commercially-derived aircraft.”

According to Boom, its Overture supersonic airliner is designed to seat between 65 and 88 passengers, travel at Mach 1.7 and have a range of 4,250 NM. Boom is targeting 2025 for its rollout of the Overture with entry-into-service planned “by the end of the decade.” As previously reported by AVweb, Boom rolled out its XB-1 supersonic demonstrator, which was constructed to demonstrate key technologies for the Overture, in October 2020.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. Error alert!

    Boom’s business case is based on Concorde speeds.
    2.04M for Concorde, 2.2M for Overture (and its technology demonstrator XB-1).
    (Boom slightly higher because of advanced materials, 2.04M was limited by aluminum structure even with white paint.)

    Problem is Boom had 1.7M on a couple of pages on its web site and was very slow to correct them. That error has been pointed out to aviation media.

    • Hi Keith! I spoke with the folks at Boom this morning regarding this and the number they gave me for Overture’s targeted speed is Mach 1.7. It looks like Mach 2.2 is still what they’re aiming for out of XB-1, so I suppose we’ll see how it evolves.

      • Strange. Does not make sense.

        Did they explain the difference?

        I repeat my evaluation that Boom’s business case was built on Mach 2.2, speed is critical to utilization which pays back the investment. A key case is JFK-LHR round trip (though noise curfews are a potential barrier, depending in part on departure times acceptable to potential customers, everyone wants morning or evening departures).

        And I ask why speed of the XB-1 was quoted as 1.7 on one of their web pages.

        Who did you speak to? I may be able to get through to Blake.

      • I _speculate_ that Boom may operate Overture slowly in initial service, and monitor it, with longer than desired turn times to allow for inspection and maintenance. That does not make it a Mach 1.7 airplane.

        Of course XB-1 will start slowly, but you say it is a Mach 2.2 airplane.

        And of course Overture will start slowly in testing, and probably do many route-proving trials. Oceanic/remote operation is a question, needs systems redundancy and proven reliability to get good routings.

        (Boom’s website is a mess.
        I have noticed conflicting information, including whether pilot positions in XB-1 are tandem or side-by-side. (It is built, except for modifications if any determined by testing. It has done engine runs to full afterburner thrust.)
        Overture’s design may evolve, for example it started out with two engines then changed to three, there are operational reasons for that I believe.)

      • Blake Scholl just confirmed via Facebook that Overture will only be Mach 1.7, no faster.

        Seems like a major shift in market and economics.

        Boom needs to be very clear on what the product is especially when they make a major change.

        • A big question for Boom was going to be the engines for Overture. Concorde’s had afterburners which is very undesirable for economics and noise.

          XB-1 uses an F-5 engine with afterburner, so it is not a technology demonstrator for engines for Overture.

  2. And why is an airplane that flies NO FASTER than Concorde–with FEWER PASSENGERS–expected to be a viable aircraft, when Concorde and “Concordski” (Russian TU-144) weren’t viable?

    Concorde first flew in 1969–53 years ago–and this has yet to fly. Has the travel market changed? Has the price of fuel gone down? Why would this succeed when aircraft of the same performance failed?

    Corollary question–Why are they getting government grants?

  3. What’s NEXT to pull out of the “recycle bin” from 1969?
    Ford Falcon cars?
    Platform shoes?
    Tie-dye shirts?
    8 track tapes?
    Bell Bottom pants?
    Love beads?
    “Turn on, tune in, drop out?”
    As the old saying went–“Anyone who can remember the 60s….wasn’t really there!” (laugh)
    The OTHER AiRLiNERS of the day are no longer produced–the F-27, the DC-9, 727, DC-8, L-1011. Why recycle Concorde? What technology does the government hope to gain by subsidizing this?

    • The business plan was to provide lower fares than Concorde, by using advanced technology and pricing fares realistically.

      As to how long development is taking, that’s a silly remark – did Concorde spring to life in a year or two? Get it right not fast.

      Very unlikely Boom Supersonic is getting government grants, given the apparent beliefs of Blake Scholl. It does now have some USAF money to advance technology as USAF is doing widely.

    • ‘jim hansen’: your post is stoopid. Shame on you.

      The A320, A330, A350, Boeing 787, Boeing 777, etc. are all of the same configuration as the Boeing 707. Do you sneer at them?

      Tip: Certain configurations work well. More than one way to do things – small airliners have been using aft-mounted engines, for supersonic slender delta and discrete wing seem to be options.

  4. Why is this being subsidized? Everyone apparently wants to go faster. Next thing you know some group might try and recycle the Convair 880 and 990!

    • ‘Rich K’, you post is stoopid as well.
      Absolutely irrelevant sneer.
      You should ask your mirror why.

  5. Many posters in this thread overlook the one scarce resource – individual human time alive.

    Don’t get on an airplane dispatched by them, they’d overlook weather and other essential factors.

    Boom Supersonic deserves credit for trying to save that scarce resource, but will probably be grounded by the same mentality as the stooopids in this thread – emotionalism, in the form of the climate catastrophist scam.