Two decades later, some start-ups, including Boom and Spike Aerospace, are moving forward with new designs and plans.
Today in business
Boom, who is working with Rolls-Royce, the British jet engine maker, said his plane would be more efficient than the Concorde; United estimates it will be 75 percent more efficient. Boom’s planes won’t be as loud as the Concorde because its engines will create a sonic boom only when flying over water “when no one is listening,” said Boom CEO Blake Scholl, who previously worked at Amazon and Groupon.
In recent years, many people have also become increasingly concerned about the contribution of air travel to climate change. Supersonic jets are expected to use more fuel than regular jets per passenger per mile, according to experts.
Scholl said Boom’s jet engines would depend entirely on sustainable aviation fuel, which can be made from waste, plants and other organic matter. Experts say that such a fuel could reduce emissions, but its supply is limited, expensive and its use does not eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.
United said it was too early to know how much it would charge for the flights, which would run out of its hubs in Newark and San Francisco to begin with. But another big question mark about the plane is how many people will be willing to spend the thousands of dollars that each ticket is likely to cost on a supersonic flight.
United has long focused on business travelers, including adding flights to Israel, China and other popular destinations among executives and offering more business class seats on its jets. Leskinen called the idea of supersonic travel a “really powerful tool for business.”
“You can have a business meeting and still be home for dinner with your family,” he said.
But corporate and international travel is expected to slowly recover from the pandemic, with some experts saying it may not fully recover for years because companies have realized they can be effective without so many in-person meetings.