United Airlines promises to revive the era of civilian supersonic flight almost 20 years after it ended with the withdrawal of Concorde.

The US carrier has ordered 15 planes capable of flying faster than the speed of sound from Denver-based start-up Boom Supersonic, with the aim of carrying passengers as early as 2029.

The deal is conditional on the plane meeting United’s “safety, operational and sustainability requirements”, the airline has warned.

If successfully developed, the so-called Overture aircraft will be able to fly at Mach 1.7 or 1.7 times the speed of sound.

This could allow the plane to cut flight time in half, making trips between London and Newark on the US east coast in just three and a half hours, or between San Francisco and Tokyo in six hours.

Boom said the price of each Overture aircraft was $ 200 million, adding that “none of our orders or pre-orders include a discount.”

The plane would also be able to use sustainable aviation fuel, the two companies said.

The Overture will be able to carry 65 to 88 passengers and will have a range of 4,250 nautical miles, according to Boom.

The goal is for the plane to attempt its first flight in 2026, with passengers on board as early as 2029. Under the terms of the agreement, United has the option of purchasing 35 additional planes.

While the full terms of the deal were not disclosed, it is nonetheless a vote of confidence in Boom, which was founded in 2014 and raised $ 270 million from venture capital firms. and other investors.

The company has yet to build an aircraft that has flown. Boom said a prototype aircraft, the XB-1, is due to fly later this year or early next year.

One of the many challenges the company will face will be obtaining approval from the Federal Aviation Administration and regulators in other countries for its airliner. Boom said he was designing Overture to be “75% cheaper than Concorde for airlines to operate and profitable for airlines at fares similar to business class.”

United’s supersonic bet comes just weeks after Nevada-based Aerion Supersonic announced it had ceased operations.

The company, which counted Boeing among its backers and had hired General Electric to supply its engines, said last month it had failed to secure enough money to start building its aircraft project. AS2 private business despite large orders.

The era of supersonic commercial flights came to an abrupt end in 2003 with the withdrawal of the Concorde.

A fatal accident in July 2000, when a Concorde caught fire shortly after takeoff from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, killing 113 people, brought all planes to a standstill for almost a year.

The terrorist attacks of September 11 the following year, which led to a widespread decline in passenger travel, were the last straw for the program, prompting British Airways and Air France to shut it down.