American Airlines has placed an order with Boom Supersonic for twenty Overture supersonic transport (SST) aircraft, with an option on another forty. The carrier has also paid a non-refundable deposit on the first twenty aircraft, the two companies announced on August 16. American Airlines selects and prepays Boom Overture.

Although the deposit is an indication that American has signed a firm order, the press release includes careful wording that the purchase of the Overtures is still conditional: “Under the terms of the agreement, Boom must meet industry-standard operating, performance and safety requirements as well as American’s other customary conditions before delivery of any Overtures.”

United Airlines’ agreement for fifteen firm plus 35 options that was announced in June 2021 contains identical provisions. At the time, United said that the order will only be confirmed “once Overture meets United’s demanding safety, operating and sustainability requirements.” Earlier, Virgin Atlantic placed an option for ten aircraft and Japan Airlines a pre-order for twenty.

American’s decision to opt for a supersonic aircraft in its fleet mirrors that of United. On one side, both airlines want to expand their fleets to include new technology and net-zero emission aircraft. In the case of United, this includes options on the all-electric Heart Aerospace HS19, the hydrogen-electric project with ZeroAvia for the Mitsubishi CRJs, and the Boom Overture. Last week, United paid a $10 million deposit to Archer Aviation for 100 eVTOLs. American is investing in the Vertical Aerospace VX4 eVTOL and made a pre-delivery payment for the first fifty vehicles in July.

But the two airlines also believe there is a new chance for supersonic passenger travel after the first era with Concorde came to an end after 27 years in 2003. “Looking to the future, supersonic travel will be an important part of our ability to deliver for our customers,” Derek Kerr, American’s Chief Financial Officer, says in a media statement.

Backlog of 130 aircraft

For Boom Supersonic, American Airlines’ selection of a supersonic transport is a major boost. Boom says that its backlog now stands at 130 aircraft for American, United, Virgin, and JAL. We even get to 140 orders and options based on previous announcements. American is the first of the four airlines to select the radically updated Overture that was unveiled in July at the Farnborough Airshow, whereas the other carriers based their decision on the original Concorde lookalike.

Boom founder and CEO, Blake Scholl, says in the media statement: “We are proud to share our vision of a more connected and sustainable world with American Airlines. We believe Overture can help American deepen its competitive advantage on network, loyalty, and overall airline preference through the paradigm-changing benefit of cutting travel times in half.”

Although the announcement gives Boom more credibility, the company still has to fight a lot of doubters who think that Overture will never happen. Scholl said in Farnborough that the rollout will be scheduled for 2025, with the first deliveries in 2029. But unless he is hiding the news from the outside world, Scholl still has no confirmed powerplants for the SST. And while it will be much more efficient than the gas-guzzling Concorde, even without afterburners and flying on 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), Overture seems in contradiction with the industry’s quest for efficient, net-zero aircraft.

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Active as journalist since 1987, starting with regional newspaper Zwolse Courant. Grand Prix reporter in 1997 at Dutch monthly Formule 1, general reporter Lelystad/Flevoland at De Stentor/Dagblad Flevoland, from 2002 until June 2021 radio/tv reporter/presentor with Omroep Flevoland.
Since mid-2016 freelance aviation journalist, since June 2021 fully dedicated to aviation. Reporter/editor AirInsight since December 2018. Contributor to Airliner World, Piloot & Vliegtuig. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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