GREENSBORO – The airline manufacturer Boom Supersonic, which intends to build a production facility at the Piedmont Triad International Airport, is on the hunt for a new engine provider as Rolls-Royce last week confirmed that it would not continue to pursue development of a supersonic engine and stated it had completed a 2020 deal struck between the two companies.
The news was first reported by Aviation International News last week.
In a statement that Aviation International News received from Rolls-Royce, the company noted that it had completed the contract with the supersonic airline manufacturer and determined that the supersonic market “is not currently a priority for us and, therefore, will not pursue further work on the program at this time.”
A spokesperson for Boom Supersonic noted that the Overture remains on track to carry passengers in 2029 and that the company would make an announcement about the engine for the aircraft “later this year.”
“[I]t became clear that Rolls’ proposed engine design and legacy business model is not the best option for Overture’s future airline operators or passengers, the spokesperson told WRAL TechWire via email. “Later this year, we will announce our selected engine partner and our transformational approach for reliable, cost-effective and sustainable supersonic flight.”
In 2020, Boom announced in a blog post that the two companies would work together, announcing “a new agreement to advance Overture’s engine program design.”
The engagement was intended to allow teams from both companies to “work together to identify a propulsion system that would complement Overture’s airframe,” according to the Boom blog post.
The Overture design was unveiled by the company at the Farnborough Air Show, an aviation trade event that was held in the United Kingdom in July.
In August, American Airlines ordered 20 Overture aircrafts from Boom, placing a non-refundable deposit, according to prior reports from the Associated Press published by WRAL TechWire. But Aviation International News reported that American may not see their agreement as a definitive purchase order for the aircraft, noting that a statement sent to the publication by American Airlines said “the specifics of the purchase are still subject to a finalized purchase agreement with future agreed upon milestones and terms, including customary requirements and conditions.”
Impact to NC?
In January, Boom Supersonic announced it would invest $500 million in a facility that would employ as many as 2,400 workers, which sources told WRAL TechWire could set off another manufacturing boom in the Triad, as Toyota had also recently announced it would construct an electric battery manufacturing plant in Randolph County the prior month.
The company’s website includes a graphic that indicates the first commercial flight of the Overture could be 2026. An Overture aircraft will carrying between 65 and 88 passengers, fly on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), and be able to travel at twice the speed of today’s fastest passenger jets, according to a company statement that coincided with the announcement of the firm’s “superfactory” at the Triad site.