LONDON- In a setback for the resurgence of supersonic travel, Richard Branson’s Virgin Group has decided against acquiring a fleet of Boom Supersonic aircraft, affectionately known as the “son of Concorde.”
This move comes as a blow to the highly anticipated American start-up, which had often been associated with the renowned Virgin brand.
Virgin Delays Purchase of Boom Supersonic Jets
Virgin Galactic, Sir Richard’s space venture, had entered into a partnership agreement with Boom in 2016, but insiders revealed that the agreement expired four years later.
It is important to note that Boom never had a concrete arrangement with Virgin Atlantic, the flagship business where Sir Richard retains a majority stake.
Boom’s flagship aircraft, the Overture, is designed to transport 65 to 80 passengers at a speed of Mach 1.7. It is equivalent to approximately 1,300 miles per hour.
Further, to aid in constructing these planes and pursue commercial certification by 2029, Boom has enlisted the support of aerospace companies Leonardo, Aernnova, and Aciturri.
However, opinions on the viability of this project diverge among aviation enthusiasts and industry experts. Proponents argue that there is a demand for supersonic travel, while skeptics remain doubtful, especially considering that two decades have passed since the demise of the Concorde.
Other Carriers Orders
To date, Boom has raised approximately $150 million (£117 million) from venture capitalists and other investors.
Last month, Boom announced a delay in its rollout, with the first flight postponed to 2027 and the entry into service rescheduled for 2030, both experiencing a one-year setback.
The company is investing $500 million in constructing an aircraft manufacturing plant in Greensboro, North Carolina, with support from US taxpayers.
Initially, Rolls-Royce had been selected to build engines for Boom’s aircraft. But the company later withdrew, citing that supersonic travel was not a priority.
Despite this setback, sources close to Virgin indicate that the group remains interested in the development of high-speed and sustainable air travel. Sir Richard Branson and his team continue to monitor Boom’s progress closely.
A representative from Boom stated, “Boom’s commercial order book currently stands at 130 aircraft. This includes orders and pre-orders from American Airlines, United Airlines, and Japan Airlines. Virgin Group does not currently have a firm commitment to Boom.
United Airlines CEO, Scott Kirby, has been an outspoken proponent of Boom Supersonic. During a recent conference in Istanbul, he remarked, “It’s not the 1950s technology that the Concorde was. Further, I think it’s doable… We’ve become a leader in all kinds of areas. This is an opportunity to help move the next generation forward. Our customers will love it if they can get it over the finish line.”
In response to the development, a spokesperson for Rolls-Royce commented, “We have fulfilled our contract with Boom and conducted various engineering studies for their Overture supersonic program. After careful consideration, Rolls-Royce has determined that the commercial aviation supersonic market is not currently a priority for us. Therefore, we will not pursue further work on the program at this time.”
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