Virgin Galactic has new competitor as United unveils supersonic plans

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Virgin Galatic Inc (NYSE:SPCE) is facing competition in the race to fly at more than the speed of sound between London and New York.

United Airlines Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:UAL) said yesterday it had placed an order for 15 Overture jets, made by Boom Supersonic, that fly at Mach 1.7 and will make the trip across the Atlantic in three and a half hours.

It won’t be just yet however as a prototype won’t fly until late this year or early 2022, with services then dependent on the plane meeting the once they meet “demanding safety, operating and sustainability requirements”.

Concorde was the last supersonic aircraft in mainstream commercial service but it was retired in 2003 three years after an Air France operated flight crashed and killed 109 people.

Mike Leskinen, United’s head of corporate development and, said the Boom jet will be 75% cheaper to operate than the Concorde due to advances in engine and metals technology.

The aeroplane would also be able to carry 88 people, he said, whereas Virgin’s design would only allow for 19 passengers.

Virgin announced last August it had teamed up with Rolls-Royce to develop a plane capable of flying at Mach 3 that would reach New York from the UK in two hours.

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