Virgin Atlantic has reportedly allowed an option to purchase the next generation of supersonic passenger jets to lapse, according to sources close to the airline. The carrier, which was created by Sir Richard Branson, first entered into an agreement with Boom Supersonic back in 2016.
The so-called Overture supersonic jet, which is being developed by Boom, will be capable of flying at a cruise speed of Mach 1.7, running completely on sustainable aviation fuel and capable of carrying between 64 and 80 passengers.
If the project is ever completed, the Overture will be able to fly from Newark to London in just 3:30 hours and to Frankfurt in as little as four hours. A flight from San Francisco to Tokyo would clock in at 6 hours – more than four hours faster than current flight time between the two cities.
There is, however, just one problem. Despite signing up various manufacturing partners throughout the aviation industry, Boom is yet to find anyone willing or capable of building supersonic engines for the plane.
Rolls-Royce had been originally lined up to develop the engines, but after carrying out preliminary studies, the company decided the supersonic market wasn’t a “priority” and pulled out of the project. Boom is yet to find another engine partner.
With the much-delayed project still no closer to completion, Virgin Atlantic reportedly allowed its non-binding agreement with Boom to lapse way back in 2020, although several other airlines seem to have more faith in Boom.
Japan Airlines signed up to take as many as 20 Boom jets as part of a pre-order arrangement in 2017, while United Airlines placed an order for 50 Overture carbon-neutral supersonic passenger planes in 2021.
Last August, American Airlines also put down a non-refundable deposit for up to 20 Boom jets with options for a further 40 planes.
“Boom’s commercial order book stands at 130 aircraft, including orders and pre-orders from American Airlines, United Airlines, and Japan Airlines,” a spokesperson for Boom told The Telegraph.
“Virgin Group does not have a firm commitment with Boom currently. We look forward to continued discussions with their team about sustainable supersonic travel.”
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.