The Overture project, from startup Boom Supersonic, suffered a hard blow this Wednesday after the confirmation of the end of the partnership with Rolls-Royce.
The British engine manufacturer was studying the propulsion solution for the supersonic commercial jet, which is considered to enter service in 2029.
When consulted by AIOnline, the engine maker revealed that it had decided not to participate in the program.
Later, in response to some outlets, Rolls-Royce stated that it “delivered various engineering studies for their Overture supersonic program. After careful consideration, Rolls-Royce has determined that the commercial aviation supersonic market is not currently a priority for us and, therefore, will not pursue further work on the program at this time.”
Boom Supersonic, in turn, said that “it 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 Overture, a commercial jet for up to 80 passengers, has a very bold schedule that sees production start in 2024 with the first flight scheduled for 2026.
Boom is finalizing testing with a concept aircraft, the XB-1, which is powered by three old J85 engines. The prototype should make its maiden flight later this year.
However, in July, the Denver-based company unveiled a new four-engine configuration for the Overture, quite different from the original design.
Rolls-Royce’s departure from the project was downplayed by Boom, which said it would announce the engine supplier by the end of this year.
Propulsion is a key part of the design as the Overture will need to be powerful to reach Mach 1.7, but economical and quiet, although it will not fly at supersonic speed over land.
Certainly, the startup will need an experienced partner willing to inject financial resources to develop an engine capable of being used in Overture.
Despite the uncertainties, Boom has gained support from three major airlines, Japan Airlines, United Airlines and, more recently, American Airlines. None of them, however, closed a firm order.