© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A United Airlines Boeing 737-800 arrives at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, United States on June 5, 2019. REUTERS / Kamil Krzaczynski / File Photo / File Photo
(Reuters) – United Airlines announced Thursday that it would buy ultra-fast jets from Denver-based airline Boom Supersonic, bringing back supersonic passenger traffic that died out when the Anglo-French Concorde was shut down in 2003.
Under the agreement, the airline will purchase 15 of Boom's “Overture” aircraft once they meet United's safety, operational and sustainability requirements, with an option for an additional 35 aircraft.
The announcement comes less than two weeks after Aerion's plans to produce a supersonic business jet stalled due to a lack of funding for production.
Supersonic is criticized by environmentalists because it burns more fuel per passenger than comparable subsonic aircraft.
United, which is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 100% by 2050, said the aircraft will be optimized to use 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) when it goes into operation in 2029.
Currently, commercial aircraft engines are certified to run on 50% alternative fuel and the remainder on regular kerosene, but the available supplies are well below that.
Boom & # 39; s Overture, a 65 to 88 seat supersonic aircraft initially offered at business class fares, would cut transatlantic flight time by 50% to around three and a half hours.
The era of regular commercial supersonic flights ended in 2003 when the Concorde, flown by Air France and British Airways, retired after 27 years of service.
The aircraft's loud sonic boom prevented it from flying over land routes, and it suffered a double blow, including a fatal crash in Paris in 2000 and the aviation industry downturn following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
The return of supersonic jets is facing hurdles from regulators like the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which must first authorize them to fly overland at supersonic speeds, along with pressure from groups like airports who want the planes not to be louder are aircraft as comparable subsonic aircraft.
United did not reveal financial details, despite a spokeswoman saying a deal had been closed and a down payment had been made.
Previously, United's head of corporate development, Mike Leskinen, told The Air Current in an interview that the transaction was not a firm deal, but that United was taking on the lead of a "real aircraft project."
A Boom spokeswoman said the order met the terms of a commercial agreement.
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