When the Concorde made its last trip in 2003 between New York and London, no one thought then that the supersonic commercial flights would make a comeback anytime soon. But United Airlines believes that with its new partnership with Boom Supersonic, a start-up in Denver, that the first ultrafast flight will take place before the end of this decade.

On Thursday, United Airlines announced that it would order 15 planes from Boom Supersonic. The jets will travel faster than the speed of sound. United has the ability to order up to 35 planes from Boom.

Despite Boom’s failed plan to start production in 2020 and difficulty in securing approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, the start-up has raised around $270 million from investors.

Their announcement comes amid increasing concern with global warming in the aviation industry. The Boom supersonic jets will mainly run on sustainable fuel, and Overture, the name Boom gave its aircraft, aims to be carbon neutral. 

Airline industry experts also express concerns that, given the setbacks with the pandemic, it might not be viable for United to commit to such a project. Though the jets are said to fly twice faster than current planes, they will also cost more, and it may be hard to find passengers who would be willing to pay full-fare premiums.

Despite any obstacles, Boom Supersonic and United Airlines are hopeful that the first jet will be ready by 2025, the first test flight will be in 2026, and the first passenger flight will be in 2029.

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