DALLAS – UK engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce (RR) has pulled out of the supersonic race, withdrawing its contribution to the Boom Supersonic project – Overture.
The move comes as RR continues to deal with significant financial challenges. In August, the company announced an underlying loss of £111m (US$127m) for the first half of 2022.
In a statement, the engine maker said, “We’ve completed our contract with Boom and delivered various engineering studies for their Overture supersonic program. 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 programme at this time. It has been a pleasure to work with the Boom team and we wish them every success in the future.”
Boom meanwhile added, “We are appreciative of Rolls-Royce’s work over the last few years but have mutually concluded their proposed engine design and legacy business model is not the best option for Overture’s future airline operators or passengers.”
The companies have worked together since mid-2020 to advance Overture’s engine design. RR, of course, had equipped the world’s first commercial supersonic airliner with its four Olympus 593 engines for Concorde.
RR’s withdrawal leaves rivals General Electric and Pratt & Whitney as the apparent contenders as Overture’s future engine partner. “Overture remains on track to carry passengers in 2029, and we are looking forward to making our engine announcement later this year,” a spokesperson said.
Boom unveiled the extensively redesigned Overture airframe at this year’s Farnborough Air Show. The updated design combined several engineering innovations in aerodynamics, noise reduction and overall performance. This included unveiling a four, rather than three-engine design, which Boom said would enable the jet to cruise at Mach 1.7 over water and just under Mach 1 over land. The four engines will also reduce noise and cost for operators.
American Airlines (AA) became the first carrier to order the updated supersonic aircraft. On August 16, it put down a non-refundable deposit for 60 jets, overtaking United Airlines (UA) as Overture’s largest customer to date.
Featured Image: Despite the setback, Boom still plans to make an announcement this year about engine selection. Photo: Boom