Boom Supersonic will 'improve upon the safety standards' of subsonic flights: CEO

Boom Supersonic Founder and CEO Blake Scholl sits down with Yahoo Finance Live to discuss American Airlines' purchase of subsonic jets, the production timeline for commercial aircrafts, and coordination with FAA guidance.

Video transcript


- American Airlines is going supersonic, today ordering 20 Overture planes from Boom Supersonic. When will they arrive, and how fast will they get you to your destination? We're joined now by Boom founder and CEO Blake Scholl. Blake, good to see you. Congrats on the deal. Tell us about how the Boom plane will differ from the traditional passenger planes we've flown on for decades.

BLAKE SCHOLL: Well, it's a really big step forward with Overture, and today with our announcement with American Airlines. Overture will fly passengers up to twice as fast as today's fastest airliners. That means you could leave Miami and be in London at about 4 and 1/2 hours. You can leave Tokyo and be in Seattle in 4 and 1/2 hours. The world's about to get a lot smaller and a lot more accessible with flights that are faster, more convenient, and more sustainable than what we have today.

- You say it's about to. How far away are these planes?

BLAKE SCHOLL: It's coming quickly. We're breaking ground on the superfactory in Greensboro, North Carolina later this year. We'll be in production in two years. We'll have our first airplane in three, and we'll be in the air in four. And we've committed to our customers that we'll be certified to carry passengers by the end of the decade, just seven years from now.

- How many passengers will fly on these planes?

BLAKE SCHOLL: Well, we're designing Overture to be able to be affordable to as many people as possible. I want to have a future where anybody who flies can benefit from the power of speed to access the world, people, and places more easily. The Overture plane itself has 65 seats in an all-business-class configuration.

- So affordability obviously is a big issue here, and you will not set pricing on the tickets, but presumably, you have a ballpark of what it might cost to fly on these planes someday.

BLAKE SCHOLL: Yeah, we're focused on reducing the cost of supersonic travel so more people can benefit. Concorde was famously unaffordable at about a $5,000 ticket, and Overture will be very profitable for airlines at fares a quarter of that. So more like a business class ticket that tens of millions of people are already buying versus something that it's really only for a tiny number of people.

- You brought up that magic word, and of course, it is Concorde. About, I guess, two decades ago now, what do you learn from what went wrong with that story?

BLAKE SCHOLL: Well, it was really 1960s technology. And much like the Apollo program, Concorde was a Cold War era project to show that the West could do something better than the Soviets could do it. It didn't really try to have a business model or economics that made sense. And fast forward literally half a century, we have better materials, more efficient aerodynamics, cleaner, quieter engines. We have sustainable aviation fuel.

And we put together all of those things into a breakthrough new design with Overture of an airplane that can not just fly fast, it can do it in a way that passengers can afford, that airlines can make money operating the aircraft. And very significantly, we can do it sustainably. 100% sustainable aviation fuel enables net zero carbon operations, so faster and better for the planet.

- We haven't mentioned one major obstacle here, which of course, is FAA approval. How big an obstacle is that?

BLAKE SCHOLL: So we're designing Overture to be based around technologies that have already been proven safe, reliable, and efficient. There is nothing on this airplane that requires a change in regulatory framework. We're able to operate quiet or quieter than latest-generation subsonic requirements are, able to meet all existing noise and emissions rules, and not just meet safety standards that apply to subsonic, but in some cases actually improve upon the safety standards that apply to subsonic airplanes.

So that said, we expect a lot of regulatory scrutiny, and we are engaged with the FAA as well as other regulators around the world, and we expect there to be lots of scrutiny and lots of testing to demonstrate that Overture appropriately meets very high and exacting safety standards. But everything on the airplane has a way to be certified. Doesn't require regulatory change, so we're confident we will get through that process.

- Of course, to reach this consumer-- the one you're after-- it's not just speed. It's comfort, it's luxury. How does it differ inside?

BLAKE SCHOLL: Oh, it's going to be a beautiful experience. Our goal is to create something where passengers actually feel better when they step off the aircraft than when they step on. Travel today is so incredibly stressful, and stepping on board Overture, we want it to be like stepping into an oasis where you instantly feel better. So with 65 seats on the airplane, every single one is roomy. Large windows, big personal device entertainment screen, supersonic Wi-Fi, and a large, comfortable seat that does everything except lay flat, because in a 3-and-1/2-hour flight, there's actually no time to sleep.

- So we've checked all the boxes except for, how do I get myself on that first flight, Blake?

BLAKE SCHOLL: Well, I can't wait to welcome you aboard, and we've got a lot of work cut out for us to be able to build enough of these airplanes to carry everyone who wants to be on them.

- Founder and CEO of Boom, Blake Scholl. Great to have you here on Yahoo Finance. Thanks so much. Best of luck.