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In Aviation, the Revolution Won’t Be Supersonic

United Airlines wants to bring back faster-than-sound travel by the end of the decade with a plan to purchase 15 supersonic jets developed by Boom Technology. Here’s what the Overture planes might look like. Image: Boom Supersonic

People say they hate being stuck for hours on a narrow plane seat, but they haven’t usually been eager to pay for the experience to fly by faster. Just ask the operators of the Concorde.

On Thursday, United Airlines announced a deal to buy 15 Overture supersonic passenger jets from Boom Technology. The 88-seat aircraft, designed to fly at 1.7 times the speed of sound, versus 0.8 times for subsonic jets, is scheduled to enter service around the end of the decade.

Buzz around the potential return of supersonic travel—18 years after the retirement of the Anglo-French Concorde project—has been audible in the aviation industry for years. United’s vote of confidence will likely make it a notch louder.

The idea is that many of the problems that made the Concorde a money-losing proposition—only 14 entered commercial service between 1976 and 2003—can now be mitigated. Some backers believe that more efficient designs could bring ticket costs in line with a regular first-class fare, compared with the Concorde’s roughly 10% premium.

Excerpt from WSJ
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Heavier Passengers on Planes Mean New Safety Limits for Airlines

Passengers keep getting bigger. Now airlines must account more accurately for that.

The Federal Aviation Administration is requiring updates to passenger and baggage weight estimates that airlines use to keep each flight within airplane safety limits. Each U.S. airline must submit a plan by June 12 explaining which average weights for passengers and baggage they’ll use, down to phones and clothing, and how they estimated those weights. The FAA must approve each airline’s plan.

Airline officials say the weight estimates used for passengers and baggage are going up between 5% and 10%. That will affect some flights, possibly requiring that more passengers get bumped or more baggage left behind. Impact is likelier on unusually hot days and in cities higher above sea level, when the weight an airplane can safely carry is reduced because wings won’t generate as much lift. Flights into stiff headwinds that require more fuel also may face more weight issues.

Excerpt from WSJ
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