Concorde or Overture: the differences between supersonic passenger planes

The most famous supersonic jet compared to the advanced project of the startup Boom

Yet another promise of supersonic passenger flights hangs in the air. Now, startup Boom Supersonic appears to have gained momentum with orders from airlines such as American and United Airlines. But how similar is Boom’s design to the iconic Concorde? Which is the fastest? Which one has more autonomy?

Designing supersonic aircraft capable of being economically viable and at the same time silent has been the “grail” of the aerospace industry since the demise of Concorde, which was never a great commercial success until the end of operation in the early 2000s.

Since then, several manufacturers have tried to make such a project possible, from startups like Boom to renowned organizations like Lockheed Martin and Virgin Galactic.

Main cabin: Concorde (left) had greater capacity than the Overture project (right)

Founded in 2014 in the United States, Boom Supersonic develops the Overture civil project with the support of companies such as Collins, Eaton, Safran, Rolls-Royce, USAF, American Express, and AWS.

Boom’s focus is on improving the Concorde idea to make supersonic aircraft economically sustainable. So far, the startup has been able to sell the idea well and has received 130 orders, 35 of which are firm orders.

Concorde Overture
Length 62,2 m 61,2 m
Height 11,3 m 11 m
Wingspan 25,3 m 32,3 m
Passenger capacity 92-128 65-80

Boom’s schedule is optimistic, with the first aircraft ready in 2025 and the first flight the following year, but passenger flights are not expected to start until 2029. Until then it’s just a promise.

Putting the Overture project alongside Concorde, there are more similarities than differences. Both are just over 60 meters long and 11 meters high. The difference is in the larger wingspan of the Overture, with 32.3 m, against 25.3 m of the Concorde.

Although they have practically the same fuselage size, the Overture will have a much smaller capacity than the Concorde. The Boom project is designed to carry 65 to 80 passengers, while the supersonic created by BAC (BAe) and Sud Aviation (Aerospatiale) could carry 92 to 128 passengers.

Concorde Overture
Cruise speed 2.160 km/h 2.082 km/h
Range 6.667 km 7.871 km
Altitude 18.300 m 18.300 m

In terms of capacity, the new project takes into account a greater concern with fuel consumption and also greater comfort in the cabin, which will have only two rows with a single seat on each side of the cabin.

Like the Concorde, the Boom Overture is expected to fly at an altitude of about 60,000 feet or 18,300 meters, well above the subsonic jets and from where it is possible to observe the curvature of the Earth.

Better range

Despite initial rumors that the Overture would cruise at Mach 2.2, or 2,695 km/h, the current specification is Mach 1.7 (2,082 km/h). The Concorde was faster, cruising at 2,160 km/h and reaching up to twice the speed of sound (2,470 km/h) at maximum.

Although slower, the Overture is expected to have a longer range of 4,250 nm (7,871 km) using sustainable fuel, while the Concorde ranged up to 3,600 nm (6,667 km). Rolls-Royce is responsible for the engines of both projects.

Boom Overture

In place of the aluminum used in the Concorde, the Overture will use carbon composites in the fuselage, which are currently easier to produce and more resistant to the heat generated by supersonic friction.

According to Boom, the aircraft with these characteristics will be able to serve on more than 600 routes around the world, fulfilling the segments in less than half the time of current subsonic jets.

However, Boom has already confirmed that the supersonic flight will only take place over the sea. When flying over the continent, Overture will maintain Mach 0.94, the same situation as Concorde, which could not fly supersonic over the US.

It is an alternative to avoid the noise pollution restrictions associated with supersonic flight, but that does not solve the dilemma of these jets since the ideal scenario is to fly fast in any region.

Air France Concorde

Orders

Regarding the order backlog, including options, Boom has already surpassed Concorde with 130 aircraft in total. Although only British Airways and Air France received seven Concordes each, more than ten airlines had shown interest in the supersonic, reaching around 100 purchase intentions.

United and American Airlines firm orders alone, which Boom says are non-refundable, now add up to 35 planes, which is more than the total number of Concordes manufactured in 27 years of operation (20 aircraft).

American and United had also shown interest in Concorde, but later canceled the orders. After so many promises, aviation fans are looking forward to seeing another passenger supersonic in operation.

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