By Ezra Gollan
Boom Announces Engine Partner, But Questions Remain on Proposed 2029 Timeline
Denver based startup Boom Supersonic announced on Tuesday that it had finally found a designer and manufacturer for the engine it hopes will power its Overture aircraft. Boom has selected Florida Turbine Technologies (FTT) to produce the engine dubbed “Symphony.” Florida Turbine Technologies has built a reputation as a producer of cruise missile and drone engines with little experience in commercial aviation, Boom’s main goal.
Blake Scholl, President and CEO of Boom Supersonic said in a press release: “Developing a supersonic engine specifically for Overture offers by far the best value proposition for our customers,” adding, “Through the Symphony program, we can provide our customers with an economically and environmentally sustainable supersonic airplane—a combination unattainable with the current constraints of derivative engines and industry norms.” It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that this engine needs to be specifically developed for the Overture. It would be great for Boom if they could just throw GE, CFM or Rolls Royce’s latest and greatest commercial jet engine onto an airframe but in the world of supersonic jets, everything must be custom made.
The engine is being developed in part by GE Additive and Standard Aero. Chris Schuppe, General Manager of Engineering and Technology at GE Additive said, “We are excited to support Overture and Symphony. GE Additive will bring industry-leading capabilities to Symphony, providing additive manufacturing design consulting and technology, while looking for additional areas to potentially collaborate.”
It is unclear what the various financial commitments look like for Boom and the three companies signing the deal, though it would not be unreasonable to think that Boom is likely paying a significant sum to FTT, GE Additive and Standard Aero for their support.
A Tight Timeline
Boom is aiming to have these engines ready to test on Overture aircraft by 2027, which is not aided by the fact that at the end of 2022, the manufacturer and its partners are announcing plans for an engine that Boom says has already been partially designed, will not enter production until 2024.
The company says that the new engine will be optimized for 100% sustainable aviation fuel also known as SAF which if true could go a long way towards convincing airlines towards coughing up those hard earned government subsidy dollars that will most certainly be doled out in efforts to boost SAF.
The skepticism that has surrounded Boom within many aviation circles since the day it was founded in most cases is not a matter of feasibility, because Concorde showed supersonic travel is technologically possible (and was decades ago). Instead, most questions stem from how long it will take for any real product to be developed and fly with paying passengers.
Boom says it is on target to carry passengers with its Overture aircraft by 2029 but doubts continue to abound regarding its path to commercial use.