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Supersonic flights between the US and London possible by end of the decade
3 June 2021, 20:45
United Airlines has announced it plans to buy supersonic planes that can fly between the US and London in three-and-a-half hours with flights possible by the end of the decade.
The airline says the planes are capable of flying at speeds of Mach 1.7, twice as fast as modern airliners.
Potential routes include Newark, New Jersey to London in just three-and-a-half hours.
Flights between those locations currently take nearly seven hours.
The fastest flight by a commercial airline between New York - which neighbours Newark - and London is two hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds, set by Concorde in 1996.
But Concorde was retired from service in October 2003, with British Airways and Air France blaming a downturn in passenger numbers and rising maintenance costs.
United has agreed to purchase 15 Overture airliners made by US firm Boom Supersonic, once they meet "demanding safety, operating and sustainability requirements".
It has an option for an additional 35 planes.
Overture is expected to be the first large commercial aircraft to have zero carbon emissions by running on pure sustainable aviation fuel, United said.
Flight trials are scheduled to begin in 2026, with commercial use beginning three years later.
United chief executive Scott Kirby said: "United continues on its trajectory to build a more innovative, sustainable airline and today's advancements in technology are making it more viable for that to include supersonic planes.
"Boom's vision for the future of commercial aviation, combined with the industry's most robust route network in the world, will give business and leisure travellers access to a stellar flight experience."
Boom Supersonic founder and chief executive Blake Scholl said: "The world's first purchase agreement for net-zero carbon supersonic aircraft marks a significant step toward our mission to create a more accessible world."