Boom fails to find engine partners for its Overture supersonic jet

Energy efficiency is on top priority for engine manufacturers.
Ameya Paleja
Boom's supersonic jet Overture
Boom's supersonic jet Overture

Boom Supersonic 

Colorado-based Boom Technology Inc., whose aim is to bring supersonic jets back into the skies, is failing to find partners to share this dream with, Insider reported on Monday. Rolls Royce, its engine partner for two years, announced earlier this month that it had ended its contract with Boom.

Traveling from Miami to London in five hours or less might be a dream for air travelers and airlines alike. Founded in 2014, Boom Technology is aiming to deliver this dream and recently announced its Overture aircraft, which looks much like a Concorde but is much smaller and can carry only 80 passengers at the most.

The company also took orders from United Airlines to deliver 20 aircraft by 2029 and the option to add 40 more to the order.

No engine manufacturer to take up the supersonic challenge

Days after the announcement, Rolls-Royce, Boom's engine partner, announced that it was ending its contract after careful consideration that the "commercial aviation supersonic market" was not its priority. One would expect Boom to switch to another in a market brimming with engine manufacturers.

However, GE Aviation, Honeywell, and Safran Aircraft Engines, publicly stated that supersonic engines weren't a priority for them either, leaving little wiggle room for Boom. According to Insider's report, GE Aviation had pursued the supersonic engine until last year with Aerion. However, financial challenges shut the company down along with the supersonic engine development.

Boom's route to a supersonic plane was slammed shut when Pratt & Whitney's chief sustainability officer called supersonic jets tangential. The stance of engine manufacturers is in line with the air travel industry, prioritizing fuel efficiency as a measure to reduce its emissions.

In a report published earlier this year, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) noted that supersonic travel would consume 7-9 times more fuel per passenger, per kilometer, than subsonic jets.

What will Boom do next?

Boom has previously stated that it will use sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to offset the carbon emissions from supersonic travel. However, ICAO has reportedly dismissed this approach as poor utilization of scarce resources such as SAF.

However, the turn of events has presented Boom with a more significant challenge that risks its airplane from ever taking flight. In a statement, Boom told Insider that it would announce its new engine partner and detail its plans to deliver supersonic yet sustainable air travel later this year.

In case it fails to convince the reluctant engine manufacturers, Boom may have to take up this challenge on its own; experts told Insider. This would be a big ask since Boom would be required to navigate the space without infringing existing patents and designs while also working on its airplane design.

Boom will likely have to raise additional funds to get this done and bring some new partners on board. If the company does succeed in doing so, not only will herald a new age of supersonic travel, but it will also be in direct competition with big names like Airbus and Boeing.