What is interesting about this is not the technology. We have had the technology for supersonic commercial air travel for decades (yes, I did ride on the Concorde once as a child). What is interesting is that this seems to be an indication that United, at least, believes that the commercial model of air travel is changing.
The commercial air travel market has been squeezed to the bottom for some time. While everybody says they want more space, more luxuries, faster transits, and more direct flights, there just haven’t been enough people willing to pay for it for airlines to sustain a high-end model. United’s move seems to indicate that they think that the high-end air travel market may be sustainable enough in the future to make supersonic flights commercially viable again.
US airline United has announced plans to buy 15 new supersonic airliners and “return supersonic speeds to aviation” in the year 2029.
Supersonic passenger flights ended in 2003 when Air France and British Airways retired Concorde.
The new Overture aircraft will be produced by a Denver-based company called Boom, which has yet to flight-test a supersonic jet.
United’s deal is conditional on the new aircraft meeting safety standards.