In a bid for the title of largest and fastest airline, American Airlines (NASDAQ: AAL) has announced it will buy 20 Boom Supersonic Overture aircraft—an airplane that its maker says will slash commercial air travel times in half.
The deal for the jet—which is currently in development—was cinched by the airline paying a non-refundable undisclosed deposit on an initial 20 aircraft. The agreement also comes with an option for the purchase of an additional 40 Overtures, each with an estimated $200 million price tag.
The move is the latest in commercial airlines putting money into the supersonic civilian aircraft endeavor. Last year, United Airlines (NASDAQ: UAL) signed a provisional agreement to buy 15 Overtures. Japan Airlines has also invested at least $10 million towards Overture’s development.
“Looking to the future, supersonic travel will be an important part of our ability to deliver for our customers,” Derek Kerr, American’s chief financial officer, said in a statement. “We are excited about how Boom will shape the future of travel both for our company and our customers.”
Overture is designed to seat 65 to 80 passengers and fly at speeds up to Mach 1.7 over water with a range of 4,250 nm.
“We believe Overture can help American deepen its competitive advantage on network, loyalty, and overall airline preference through the paradigm-changing benefits of cutting travel times in half,” said Blake Scholl, founder and CEO of Boom.
Last month, Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) announced it was teaming up with Boom for a military variant of the Overture.
The military variant, Boom said, would be a supersonic aircraft tailored for quick-reaction capabilities. It would also carry up to 80 passengers for missions that require rapid response, such as delivering medical supplies, or providing emergency medical evacuations.
The first flight of a sub-scale test article is expected to take place later this year. The first Overture aircraft is expected to roll out in 2025, and begin commercial service with passengers by 2029, Boom said.
FLYING’s Thom Patterson contributed to this report.