AP

American Airlines places deposit on 20 supersonic planes

Aug 16, 2022, 5:26 AM | Updated: Aug 18, 2022, 10:42 am

DALLAS (AP) — American Airlines has agreed to buy up to 20 supersonic jets and put down a non-refundable deposit on the planes that are still on the drawing board and years away from flying.

Neither American nor the manufacturer Boom Supersonic would provide financial details Tuesday, including the amount of American’s deposit.

American, which also took options for 40 more Boom Overture planes, becomes the second U.S. customer for Boom after a similar announcement last year from United Airlines for 15 jets.

It has been nearly 20 years since the last supersonic passenger flight by Concorde, the British-French plane that failed to catch on because of the high cost — both for passengers and airlines.

Boom CEO Blake Scholl insists his company’s plane will be different when it debuts in 2029, with tickets costing about $4,000 to $5,000 to fly from New York to London in about three and one-half hours.

“There are tens of millions of passengers every year flying in business class on routes where Overture will give a big speed-up,” Scholl said in an interview, “and airlines will be able to do it profitably.”

Boom says its plane will have a top speed of 1.7 times the speed of sound, or about 1,300 mph, and carry between 65 and 80 passengers.

Skeptics have questioned Boom’s ambitious timetable, especially in light of the many years it has taken Boeing, an established manufacturer, to get planes or even retrofits to planes approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Notably, Boom does not yet have an engine manufacturer lined up. It is talking with Rolls Royce and others.

“With a supersonic jet, you don’t design a plane, you design an engine first,” said Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst at consultant AeroDynamic Advisory. “This is just a collection of freehand drawings until that engine happens.”

Boom says the plane will fly entirely on sustainable aviation fuel, often made from plant material, which is currently in short supply and very expensive.

Boom, which is based in Denver and plans to build the Overture in North Carolina, says the program will cost between $6 billion and $8 billion. The plane carries a list price of $200 million, although other manufacturers routinely give airlines deep discounts.

Last month, Boom announced changes to the plane’s design to make it simpler and less expensive to build and maintain. The most striking change was going from three engines, including a different type on the tail, to four identical engines under the delta-shaped wings.

The market for four-engine planes is shrinking. The Boeing 747 is used mostly for hauling cargo now, and Airbus shut down production of the A380 in 2021. The vast majority of passenger jets flying today have two engines.

Four-engine planes “are that much worse from every standpoint, from economics to emissions,” Aboulafia said. “Nobody wants more engines, the answer is fewer engines.”

While American and United have said they’ll buy Boom’s plane, Delta Air Lines, the other big U.S. carrier that could use it on long international flights, isn’t ready to join them.

“I have a lot more questions than answers still,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said Tuesday on Fox Business. “Until we are confident that we could actually generate a reliable return from the aircraft, that’s not where we’re investing.”

American Airlines said the supersonic plane will change travel.

“Looking to the future, supersonic travel will be an important part of our ability to deliver for our customers,” said Derek Kerr, the airline’s chief financial officer.

The union representing American’s pilots questioned the timing of the airline’s investment in planes that won’t be available for several years at best. American has struggled this summer, canceling more than 9,300 flights since June 1 — more than double the cancellations at United, Delta or Southwest — according to FlightAware.

“Investing in today’s operation should be management’s sole focus,” said Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the union. “If there aren’t any changes to how management schedules this airline and its pilots, these will just be supersonic cancellations.”

___

David Koenig can be reached at www.twitter.com/airlinewriter

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Arizona and New York attorneys feud over extraditing suspect...

Associated Press

Why Alvin Bragg and Rachel Mitchell are fighting over extraditing suspect in New York hotel killing

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell says she isn't into extraditing a suspect due to her lack of faith in Manhattan’s top prosecutor.

3 days ago

A Gila monster is displayed at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Dec. 14, 2018. A 34-year-old Color...

Associated Press

Colorado man dies after being bitten by pet Gila monster

A Colorado man has died after being bitten by his pet Gila monster in what would be a rare death by one of the desert lizards if the creature's venom turns out to have been the cause.

4 days ago

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

11 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

12 days ago

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, and Kenya's Defense Minister Aden Duale, left, listen during...

Associated Press

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hospitalized with bladder issue

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized following symptoms pointing to an “emergent bladder issue."

14 days ago

Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church, stands with his wife, Victoria Osteen, as he conducts a...

Associated Press

Woman firing rifle killed by 2 off-duty officers at Houston’s Lakewood Church run by Joel Osteen

A woman entered the Texas megachurch of Joel Osteen and started shooting with a rifle Sunday and was killed by two off-duty officers.

14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

American Airlines places deposit on 20 supersonic planes