Boom plans to make its supersonic passenger planes in North Carolina
The company is making big boasts about producing new aircraft at a "superfactory" and then getting them airborne by 2026.
At an event in Greensboro, North Carolina earlier today, the state’s governor, Roy Cooper, and the president of Boom Supersonic, Kathy Savitt, announced that they planned to open an “Overture Superfactory” at the Piedmont Triad International Airport.
Boom is a Colorado-based startup with a goal to create a new kind of Concorde—a supersonic aircraft that would bring back faster-than–the-speed-of-sound travel to commercial aviation, and do it in an affordable, sustainable way.
In 2020, the company unveiled a 71-foot-long jet called the XB-1, which has yet to fly. That smaller aircraft is meant to be a test vehicle to help pave the way for the Overture jet that doesn’t yet exist, but could someday carry passengers. (A Boom spokesperson notes via email that the XB-1 will fly for the first time this year.)
“Boom Supersonic, the company that’s building the next generation of cleaner, faster passenger jets, will build them right here, at the Piedmont Triad Airport, creating 1,761 new, good-paying jobs,” Governor Cooper said at the event.
[Related: The Air Force is investing millions in what could be the next Concorde]
The company is boasting that the construction of the factory, the creation of the first plane, and even its first flight will happen at a dizzying speed. Savitt, the president and chief business officer of Boom, said that they would break ground on the facility this year, begin producing aircraft in 2024, roll out the first plane in 2025, and conduct flight tests in 2026. All planes will be “powered by sustainable aviation fuels, meeting our 100-percent, net-zero-carbon goals.” (More on what sustainable fuel is here.) She said the jet would allow passengers onboard in 2029.
[Related: This experimental NASA plane will try to break the sound barrier—quietly]
A decade from now, in 2032, Savitt said the factory would employ more than 2,400 people.
Questions remain about the company’s schedule: Besides the fact that the Boom demonstration aircraft, the XB-1, hasn’t yet flown yet, the passenger jet, Overture, will require engines. The company says it’s working with Rolls-Royce on that key part of the aircraft. On Twitter, Jon Ostrower, the Editor-in-Chief of The Air Current website, took note of that issue, as he has in the past on an episode of 60 Minutes. He wrote that “without a launched engine by Rolls-Royce, Boom is making claims about its schedule that it simply can’t keep.” He added: “Rolls-Royce hasn’t made a commitment [sic] for an engine and one would need to be deep in development with a significant engineering team right now to make [a first flight by] 2026.”
Earlier this month, Boom announced a major Air Force investment that will help the company create the Overture plane.