American Airlines to Buy Supersonic Planes That Will Fly Nearly Twice the Speed of Sound

The future is supersonic.

A model of Boom Supersonic's concept Overture aircraft is pictured at the Farnborough Airshow,
A model of Boom Supersonic's concept Overture aircraft is pictured at the Farnborough Airshow,. Photo: JUSTIN TALLIS/Getty Images

American Airlines just became the second major U.S. airline to bank on the future of supersonic travel.

Today, the carrier announced that it has placed a nonrefundable deposit on up to 20 Overture supersonic aircraft currently being developed by Boom Supersonic, with an option to purchase an additional 40 planes. This follows United's deposit on 15 Overture aircraft, with an option for 35 more, placed last year.

"Looking to the future, supersonic travel will be an important part of our ability to deliver for our customers," Derek Kerr, American Airlines' chief financial officer, said in a statement. "We are excited about how Boom will shape the future of travel both for our company and our customers."

Since the retirement of the Concorde in 2003, most commercial planes fly around 500 miles per hour, but Overture will be capable of flying Mach 1.7 over water. That's 1.7 times the speed of sound, or about 1,300 miles per hour — fast enough to fly from Miami to London in less than five hours, and Los Angeles to Honolulu in three hours. But aircraft will be significantly smaller than most commercial offerings today, carrying between 65 and 80 passengers.

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

Of course, the Overture aircraft hasn't actually flown yet — as of now, Boom plans to roll it out in 2025, with passenger flights beginning in 2029. But the company did just reveal the plane's final production design last month at the Farnborough International Airshow in the UK, which features four engines mounted to "gull wings."

"Aviation has not seen a giant leap in decades. Overture is revolutionary in its design, and it will fundamentally change how we think about distance," Scholl said in a separate statement regarding the airshow. "With more than 600 routes across the globe, Overture will make the world dramatically more accessible for tens of millions of passengers."

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