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Is it possible to travel from New York to London in under 3.5 hours? It's being worked on.

United Airlines will buy Sonic Boom's "Overture" aircraft and begin passenger service in 2029.

Is-it-possible-to-travel-from-New-York-to-London-in-under-3-5-hours-It-s-being-worked-on | World | Technology | New York | London News | London | UNited Airlines

United Airlines revealed Thursday's intentions to purchase 15 jets from airline startup Boom Supersonic, a move that might resurrect high-speed air travel after the Concorde was retired in 2003.

According to a joint news statement, the commercial agreement calls for United to acquire Boom's "Overture" aircraft after they fulfill "United's exacting safety, operational, and sustainability standards," with the goal of beginning passenger service in 2029.

The news offers a possible return to a once-vaunted mode of transportation, while several experts voiced doubt, especially given the relatively short timescale.

The deal covers 15 planes and includes an option for United to purchase an additional 35 planes. The financial details were not disclosed by the firms.

"It's an attractive notion, but there are a lot of problems," said Michel Merluzeau, a consultant at AIR, who thinks that constructing a new commercial plane that meets regulatory requirements may cost $10 to $15 billion.

"We need to be realistic about this," Merluzeau continued, predicting that commercial service would begin in 2035 or 2040.

Merluzeau also said that it was unclear if United had agreed to any payments or whether the statement reflected a purchase intent.

Boom's plane can travel twice as fast as the fastest aircraft currently on the market, with the ability to travel from Newark to London in three and a half hours and from San Francisco to Tokyo in six hours, according to the firms.

The airplanes will also be "net-zero" in terms of carbon emissions since they will run on renewable fuel.

- Are you making a comeback? -

The Concorde launched commercial supersonic jet travel in the 1970s, but the planes were decommissioned in 2003 owing, in part, to the enormous expense of satisfying environmental limitations on loud booms.

The Concorde's demise was further precipitated by a 2000 Air France crash that killed 113 people.

When it broke past the sound barrier, the aircraft could fly at more than double the speed of sound, producing its famed "sonic boom."

Only the most affluent customers could afford the expensive ticket costs for the aircraft's 100-144 seats, which were only ever operated by Air France and British Airways.

According to an information sheet from the Federal Aviation Administration, the technique is receiving a second look now as businesses in the United States and overseas create aircraft using lighter and more efficient composite materials and new engine designs.

"Our aim has always been to connect people, and now that we're collaborating with Boom, we'll be able to accomplish it on an even larger scale," said United CEO Scott Kirby.

Boom Supersonic, located in Denver, claimed it is also working with the US Air Force on a military version of the Overture.

According to a Boom spokesman, the business has so far garnered $270 million from investors. Bessemer Venture Partners and American Express Ventures, an arm of the credit card business, are among the venture capitalists that back Boom Supersonic.

Boom's CEO and co-founder, Blake Scholl, a former Amazon employee, has positioned the company as a method to satisfy customer demand in an increasingly interconnected world.

"The tale of Concorde is the narrative of a trip begun but not finished — and we want to follow up on it," Scholl said in July 2018 at a Farnborough Airshow event.

However, Scholl has admitted that the price may be beyond of reach for certain customers.

"What we've been able to accomplish owing to developments in aerodynamics, materials, and engines is provide a high-speed flight at the same price you pay in business class today," Scholl told AFP in 2018, adding that a round-trip ticket over the Atlantic might cost $5,000.

According to Jon Ostrower, editor of the aviation newspaper the Air Current, United's procurement represents a change in a long-term industry trend.

"When United purchased supersonic planes the previous time, humans had yet to walk on the Moon," Ostrower said. "More than a half-century later, United is refocusing on speed, defying the most persistent airline trend in the last 50 years: a desire to travel cheaper, not quicker."

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