Supersonic flight has existed for over half of a century, but the technology was lacking and inefficiencies kept it from the mainstream. Finally, the Colorado-based company, Boom Supersonic, began its quest for a solution, combining proven materials and technologies into a revolutionary airplane. Called Overture, this breakthrough airplane design makes supersonic flight an accessible and affordable possibility for hundreds of transoceanic routes, perhaps even establishing itself as the new norm for business class travel.
With the exciting announcement that Boom would build its first U.S. manufacturing facility, the firm also announced its decision to select HPM as the owner’s representative and program manager, assisting them with site selection as the next step.
“It will be their home for the manufacturing and assembly, testing, and then ultimately the customer delivery for the Overture,” says Mike Lanier, President of HPM, as he spoke to hosts Max Flight and Max Trescott on the Airplane Geeks Podcast. “We’re in the very early stages…looking for the appropriate sites and what the possibilities might be.”
Locating an appropriate site for Boom’s innovative Overture has been no small task, as each potential site must meet a rare combination of specific requirements.
“There are three primary criteria every site had to meet before they made our list,” explains Lanier. The first criterium, and perhaps easiest to find, is that the location must have 175 acres of developable land, allowing room for what will be about one million square feet of facility space. The second criterium is a minimum runway length of 10,500 feet. Finally, the third criterium is that the site be located within 150 miles of a supersonic test corridor, which would be over international waters or the Mojave Desert.
“They [Boom] also want to make sure there’s a culture fit,” adds Lanier. “It’s been a real challenge. It really has.”
HPM started the site selection process by making anonymous, preliminary calls to ensure that searchable databases had accurate land information. After careful research and investigation, HPM effectively narrowed down the possibilities from 2,000 sites to 15. Working closely with Boom, HPM will continue to narrow the options down to five shortlisted sites.
After this shortlist phase, the project will move closer to design, with the possibility of selecting a design partner as early as 2021. HPM will help the design partner understand the unique industrial process behind the Overture, especially when compared to the standard assembly line for a Boeing or Airbus. The firm will also advise on appropriate building sizes so that the buildings can accommodate the planes and work with the surrounding environment. According to Lanier, it will take 2-3 years to complete the design process with a goal of launching the first supersonic flight in the mid-2020s.
“We’re the owner’s oversight,” says Lanier. “We work with [Boom’s] supply team and procurement team to engage architects, engage contractors, and be the agent that oversees so Boom can stay focused on airplanes.”
The end result is exciting: the fastest-ever commercial airliner, at Mach 2.2 speed, and history’s most efficient supersonic jet.
Every seat on the Overture will be both an aisle and a window seat, with each seat given access to large, personal windows. Ticket prices will be competitive, meeting the same price point as today’s long-haul business class. Both Virgin Group and Japan Airlines have already placed pre-orders.
“Everybody’s excited about it,” says Lanier. “What’s not to be excited about?”
Boom Supersonic, based in Denver, Colorado, is known for building the history’s fastest supersonic airliner. In March 2019, they announced that HPM, with its expertise in managing capital building programs, has been selected to lead its one-of-a-kind program to help locate, plan, design, and build its first manufacturing facility in the United States.
About Airplane Geeks Podcast
The Airplane Geeks™ podcast is a weekly audio program that looks at the world of aviation. First published in 2008, the podcast aims to educate and inform you, explore and expand your passion for aviation, and entertain you a little along the way. They discuss commercial, military, and general aviation topics, usually with a prominent industry guest.