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Future of supersonic aviation startup in question as engine manufacturers drop out

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The future of aviation startup Boom has been brought into question after engine manufacturers including Rolls Royce decided not to pursue agreements to power its in-development supersonic aircraft.

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Boom had announced in mid-2020 that Rolls Royce had signed an “engagement agreement” to explore supersonic technology for the startup’s Overture plane.

But earlier this month, the British engineering firm said that supersonic flight was no longer a priority.

GE Aviation, Honeywell, and Safran Aircraft Engines have all also said they are not interested in making a supersonic engine for Boom, FlightGlobal reported.

“We’ve completed our contract with Boom and delivered various engineering studies for their Overture supersonic program,” Rolls-Royce said in a statement to industry publication Aviation International News (ANI).

“After careful consideration, Rolls-Royce has determined that the commercial aviation supersonic market is not currently a priority for us and, therefore, will not pursue further work on the program at this time.”

“It has been a pleasure to work with the Boom team and we wish them every success in the future.”

The startup, however, has said that it plans to announce an engine partner later this year.

A spokesperson told Business Insider: “As a practice, we avoid commenting on any ongoing and confidential negotiation with our suppliers, until both sides are ready to announce jointly, however, we can reconfirm our intention to announce Boom’s selected engine partner and transformational approach for reliable, cost-effective, and sustainable supersonic flight, later this year.”

Boom has drawn orders for its in-development Overture from four airlines including United Airlines and American Airlines.

It promises that the new aircraft will deliver speeds of Mach 1.7, nearing the top speed of the iconic supersonic plane Concorde, which could fly at Mach 2.04.

Unlike the French-British aircraft that was famously retired in 2003 due to its lack of commercial feasibility, Boom claims that the Overture will overcome cost challenges by relying on 100 percent renewable fuel.

The company also says that the Overture will avoid noise pollution complaints by only flying at supersonic speeds over the ocean, thereby reducing the sound impact of sonic booms.

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