Virgin Galactic has abandoned its order for jets from Boom Supersonic, a United States (US)-based company that aims to revive supersonic travel.
According to a report by The Telegraph, the conglomerate’s space division, which also owns Virgin Atlantic and a minority stake in Virgin Australia, as well as other aerospace-related ventures, allowed its options for Boom Supersonic’s Overture passenger jet to lapse. The report added that the Richard Branson-owned Virgin Galactic through the Virgin Group never had a firm agreement with Boom over the order.
When Boom Supersonic announced it received $100 million in a Series B investment round in January 2019, the company said that its future customers “include Virgin Group and Japan Airlines, which have pre-ordered a combined 30 Overture airliners”.
However, no press releases after November 2020 mention Virgin Group or Virgin Galactic having pre-ordered any Overture aircraft. Boom Supersonic’s ‘Partners’ page only mentions American Airlines, United Airlines, and Japan Airlines as airline partners, with the company also listing other component and production suppliers on the same page.
During the Paris Air Show in June 2023, the company revealed that Spain-based Aernnova and Aciturri would manufacture the wing and empennage for the Overture, respectively, while Italy’s Leonardo will build the fuselage and system integration for the supersonic aircraft.
“We are incredibly proud of the progress with Overture and Symphony from our global team of partners and suppliers who continue to operate at an accelerated pace toward the future of sustainable supersonic flight,” said Bake Scholl, the founder and chief executive officer of Boom Supersonic, at the time.
During the same event, Boom Supersonic detailed that the Overture’s order book stood at 130 aircraft.
The Overture will be built in Greensboro, North Carolina, the United States (US), on a site at Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO). According to the company, the factory is “on pace for production launch in 2024”.
“Virgin Galactic’s options from a 2016 agreement ended in 2020 at which point Boom Supersonic and Virgin mutually decided to allow the options to expire. Boom’s commercial order book continues to stand at 130 aircraft, including 35 orders with non-refundable deposit and 95 pre-orders from United Airlines, American Airlines, and Japan Airlines. We continue to maintain a strong relationship with Virgin and look forward to continued discussions with their team about sustainable supersonic travel,” said a Boom Supersonic spokesperson in an email to AeroTime.
UPDATE July 11, 2023, 8:05 AM (UTC +3): The article was updated with a statement from Boom Supersonic.