Boom Supersonic unveils new Symphony engine for faster-than-sound Overture airliner

Boom Supersonic image of a passenger supersonic airliner above the clouds.
Boom Supersonic's new Overture supersonic passenger plane will use a new Symphony engine. (Image credit: Boom Supersonic)

Boom Supersonic is determined to create the planet's fastest airliner with its needle-nosed Overture supersonic plane, and now the sleek craft will be equipped with a brand new turbo-fan propulsion system. 

This month, the Denver-based Boom Supersonic announced plans to power uts faster-than-sound Overture passenger plane with its Symphony engine. The new engine is being developed under partnership with a trio of industry vanguards: Florida Turbine Technologies (FTT) for engine design, GE Additive for additive technology design consulting and StandardAero, one of the aerospace industry's biggest independent maintenance, repair and overhaul providers.

"Developing a supersonic engine specifically for Overture offers by far the best value proposition for our customers," said Blake Scholl, Founder and CEO of Boom Supersonic in a Dec. 13 statement (opens in new tab). "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."

Overture's customized propulsion system is intended to run at net zero carbon and flying relatively quietly for a supersonic jet, passing the test for Chapter 14 noise levels with flying colors. Symphony hopes to offer a significant 25% increase in time on wing and drastically lower engine maintenance and repair costs, thereby slashing airplane operating bills for customers by a minimum of 10%. Boom Supersonic plans to provide Overture jets to United for passenger flights and has teamed up with Northrop Grumman on a military jet for the U.S. Defense Department.

"United and Boom share a passion for making the world dramatically more accessible through sustainable supersonic travel," Mike Leskinen, President of United Airlines Ventures, said in the statement. "The team at Boom understands what we need to create a compelling experience for our passengers, and we are looking forward to a United supersonic fleet powered by Symphony."

FTT is well equipped to confidently head up this new supersonic engine design. Many of its veteran engineers were instrumental in creating the powerful F-119 and F-135 supersonic engines that are installed on the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Panther.

"The team at FTT has a decades-long history of developing innovative, high-performance propulsion solutions," said Stacey Rock, President of Florida Turbine Technologies, in the same announcement. "We are proud to team with Boom and its Symphony partners and look forward to developing the first bespoke engine for sustainable, economical supersonic flight."

A cutaway look at the Symphony engine for Boom Supersonic's Overture passenger airliner. (Image credit: Boom Supersonic)

According to Boom Supersonic's Dec. 13 statement (opens in new tab), Symphony will be designated as a medium-bypass turbofan engine conceived with the same basic engine architecture found in nearly all of today's regular commercial aircraft. However, in a deviation from traditional subsonic turbofans, this next-generation propulsion system adds a proprietary Boom-designed axisymmetric supersonic intake, matched with a variable-geometry low-noise exhaust nozzle and a passively cooled high-pressure turbine.

Some specific design features on the drawing board for Symphony include a twin-spool, medium-bypass turbofan engine with no afterburner, generating a massive 35,000 pounds of thrust at takeoff and burning 100% sustainable aviation fuel. Its single-stage fan highlights whisper-quiet operation and will be fully compliant with all FAA and EASA Part 33 requirements.

Symphony's complex blueprints and design refinements are moving forward according to plan, with Overture rocketing towards official type certification in 2029. Production will kick off in 2024 at Overture's Greensboro, North Carolina superfactory with a slated 2026 rollout and 2027 first flight test.

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Jeff Spry
Contributing Writer

Jeff Spry is an award-winning screenwriter and veteran freelance journalist covering TV, movies, video games, books, and comics. His work has appeared at SYFY Wire, Inverse, Collider, Bleeding Cool and elsewhere. Jeff lives in beautiful Bend, Oregon amid the ponderosa pines, classic muscle cars, a crypt of collector horror comics, and two loyal English Setters.

  • Jerry
    How they can solve the loud sonic boom and fly over land?
    Reply
  • billslugg
    I read somewhere else that they are moving towards more and more rocket shaped, smooth vehicles. No protuberances, small inlets, small outlets, tiny wings. The boom originates at any sharp transition of the flow. Needle won't make a boom, just a thump. LIke a distant thunder boom. No big deal.

    I spent a lot of time canoeing in Northern Ontario, over 100 miles from any permanent habitation in any direction. The Canadian Air Force uses those remote areas to fly supersonic. When they get going it is BOOM, BOOM, BOOM one right after another. Lots of fun to hear, once or twice. It can get old.
    Reply
  • Jerry
    billslugg said:
    I read somewhere else that they are moving towards more and more rocket shaped, smooth vehicles. No protuberances, small inlets, small outlets, tiny wings. The boom originates at any sharp transition of the flow. Needle won't make a boom, just a thump. LIke a distant thunder boom. No big deal.

    I spent a lot of time canoeing in Northern Ontario, over 100 miles from any permanent habitation in any direction. The Canadian Air Force uses those remote areas to fly supersonic. When they get going it is BOOM, BOOM, BOOM one right after another. Lots of fun to hear, once or twice. It can get old.

    I heard multiple booms from SR-71. Real loud.
    Hope they figure it out. Sadly, the airfare is so high.
    Reply
  • Unclear Engineer
    See https://weather.com/travel/news/2018-11-08-nasa-tests-supersonic-boom-galveston-air-travel
    Reply
  • bluedog
    For now this is just a design proposal, far from a fully functioning engine and coming from partners that have never built a single engine ever. Who is actually going to built that engine ?

    We all know how extremely complex it is to build an normal engine ( non supersonic) that can fufill all it design promises; can you say the Silvercrest from Safran ? It was announced in 2006 and It still doesn't work properly and Dassault and Cessna cancel their contract. So Safran has an engine not fully functional with no clients and millions spends.

    Now let say they can make it work in that super short delay ( nearly impossible) and can find a supplier who want to build it (who ? Where ? Every engine builder said they where not interested in the project .) with only one client : Boom ( how can you make a profit ?) and for the sake of discussion that the working engine is a little bigger , a little longer and little heavier than the proposed concept ?

    Well that going to affect the center of gravity , the airflow, the aerodynamic ,the pylons design ,the lift and the total weight of the aircraft just to name a few items. Yet Boom tell us they have the final design of the aircraft competed. How can you have a final design if you don't have a working engine ? They are supposed to fly a baby boom overture ( XB-1 ) with a old GE J85 engine (fist flight :1960) for a few year now , yet it still hasn't flown a single time ,why ?

    I have yet to see a suppliers list for the parts ( or sub assembly )for the aircraft (landing gear , aviation suite, electronics etc) yet there telling us there going to do a first fight in 4 years and Full FAA,EASA ,TCA etc in 2029?

    Coming from a new company that has never built a single aircraft ever with new employees (where are they going to find the workers ?, everybody in the industry is short staff ) , the learning curve etc ? We all know how complex it is to bring a brand new aircraft to EIS from the big names , and they are always late and over budget. just to name a few; Boeing 787 (cost : 32 billions ) Airbus A400M (31 billions ) Bombardier Cseries ( now Airbus A220) nearly bankrupted the company that gave it away to Airbus for $ 1 dollar.

    How much it going to cost to Boom to bring a SUPERSONIC aircraft and get it certified by all governing bodies ? Remember the problems of certification of Mitsubishi and the MRJ ? Never got certified by the way and the project will be cancelled ( technically on hold indefinitely for now but just still not announced officially )

    How much money does Boom got into his bank account ? A few hundered millions ? that just a FEW of the problems I see that they need to solved to make it ( I could name a few promises that are , hmm.... how can I put it ? overly optimistic, a few flight projections are not achievable , and some pair cities would never have enough clients to make it economically viable. ) Sorry but for me, that project sound more like Elisabeth Holmes Theranos than anything else.
    Reply
  • wrbluepearl
    bluedog said:
    For now this is just a design proposal, far from a fully functioning engine and coming from partners that have never built a single engine ever. Who is actually going to built that engine ?


    Yeah, this was one of my first questions upon reading the article, and one of the things that makes me not take Boom very seriously. No partnerships with Pratt & Whitney? GE (the jet engine division)? CFM? They had been partnered up with Rolls-Royce but broke that off back in September of last year. Not like Rolls-Royce made the engines for Concorde or anything.

    Now maybe they'll prove us all wrong and pull this thing out of a hat, but at this point, Boom Supersonic is acting like a company that wants to get acquired by a 'real' aircraft manufacturer, not a company that's going to have an actual product to sell to actual airlines anytime soon.
    Reply
  • Unclear Engineer
    wrbluepearl said:
    Now maybe they'll prove us all wrong and pull this thing out of a hat, but at this point, Boom Supersonic is acting like a company that wants to get acquired by a 'real' aircraft manufacturer, not a company that's going to have an actual product to sell to actual airlines anytime soon.

    I agree, that is how the press release comes across.

    But, then I think about how Boeing and SpaceX looked a while back.

    So, I'm not investing, but I am watching with some interest.
    Reply
  • Anthony Ferreira
    I hope that this isn't the final design. The landing gear is directly in front of the engines. Haven't they learned anything since the days of the Concord? The Concord only had the landing gear beside the engines, this is far worse!
    Reply
  • Unclear Engineer
    Anthony Ferreira said:
    I hope that this isn't the final design. The landing gear is directly in front of the engines. Haven't they learned anything since the days of the Concord? The Concord only had the landing gear beside the engines, this is far worse!

    Looking at the video, I am not seeing the landing gear "directly in front of the engines". Looks to me like the nose gear is centered on the fuselage (and of course, ahead of the engines), and the other 2 landing gear are housed in the main wing next to the fuselage about the same logitudinal position as the engines that are out on the wings, beyond the deployed position of the landing gear.

    I do see those 4 engine nacels sticking down below the wings like an old 707 design, and wonder how those are going to contribute to the all-important minimal shock wave production that is supposed to be the new feature that allows supersonic flight over populated land areas. The NASA X-59 experimental QueSST plane design has its engine above the fuselage and behind the wings, so shock waves from it go upward. See my previous previous link - repeated here: https://weather.com/travel/news/2018-11-08-nasa-tests-supersonic-boom-galveston-air-travel .
    Reply