DALLAS (AP) — American Airlines has agreed to buy 20 supersonic jets and hold nonrefundable deposits on planes that are still on the drawing board and years away from flying.
Neither American nor manufacturer Boom Supersonic would provide financial details Tuesday, including the size of American’s deposit. American becomes the second U.S. customer for Boom, following a similar announcement last year by United Airlines for 15 planes, called the Overture.
It has been almost 20 years since the last supersonic passenger flight of the British-French airliner Concorde, which failed to catch on due to the high costs of the flights.
Boom CEO Blake Scholl insists his company’s plane will be different when it debuts in 2029, with a ticket costing $4,000 to $5,000 for a flight from New York to London in about three and a half hours.
“Millions of passengers fly business class every year on routes where Overture will offer great speeds,” Scholl said in an interview, “and airlines will be able to do it profitably.”
Skeptics have questioned Baum’s ambitious timetable, especially in light of the many years he has spent years trying to get Boeing, an established manufacturer, to acquire aircraft or even planes approved by the Federal Aviation Administration. Has taken to getting the retrofit.
Also, Boom doesn’t have an engine builder yet. It’s talking to Rolls-Royce and others.
Baum says the plane will fly entirely on sustainable aviation fuel, often made from plant materials, which are currently in short supply and very expensive.
Baum says the Overture program will cost between $6 billion and $8 billion. The aircraft has a list price of $200 million, although other manufacturers routinely offer deep discounts to airlines.
Last month, Baum announced changes to the aircraft’s design to make it simpler and cheaper to maintain. The most striking change was from three engines, including a variant on the tail, to four identical engines under the delta-shaped wings.
The union representing American 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 operations should be management’s sole focus,” union spokesman Dennis Tajer said. “If no changes are made to the management schedule of this airline and its pilots, these will simply be supersonic cancellations.”