Supersonic Travel for Commercial Passengers

Claire Miles
May 10, 2023

A supersonic transport (SST), sometimes known as a supersonic airliner, is a commercial supersonic aircraft intended to carry people faster than the sound barrier. Concorde and the Tupolev Tu-144 are the two SSTs that have been in continuous service to date. The Tu-144 made its final NASA mission in 1999 after its final passenger flight in June 1978. The last Concorde commercial flight took place in October 2003, and its final aerial activity was a ferry trip on November 26, 2003. There are no longer any SSTs in commercial service due to the permanent end of Concorde flights. A supersonic business plane that has been suggested by many firms might revive supersonic travel.

Since the 1960s, supersonic flight has been considered the Holy Grail of commercial aviation. Russia, Britain, France, and America competed to construct faster-than-sound aircraft throughout that decade, with Concorde becoming a useful commercial airliner in the 1970s. The Boeing 2707 program was abandoned before a prototype was produced, while the Russian Tupolev Tu-144 was never able to operate efficiently. A new design from Denver-based Boom Supersonic called Overture promises to deliver dispatch reliability and operating economics that will make supersonic commercial flight feasible in today’s economy. Concorde never became the financial success it was intended to be, in large part because of high oil prices. American Airlines has stated its desire to purchase 20 airframes, providing a considerable boost to the program.

Two U.S. Navy Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets fighter jets in near vertical climb Where: Studio/Chino Hills. CA USA When: 07-24-2012 Who/What - I photographed two F/A-18F Super Hornets and added my own original background aerial photo with PhotoShop.

Getty Images / Photodisc / Erik Simonsen

Supersonic commercial flight was originally considered the next major advancement in aviation. Mach 2 speeds promised breakfast in New York and lunch in Paris or London, much as the turbojet engine made nonstop transcontinental and transoceanic flying conceivable.

The Russian Tupolev design bureau, a collaboration between France’s Aerospatiale and the British Aircraft Corporation, and the major American airframe producers, most notably Boeing, were in a tight race to produce such an aircraft. The American corporations determined that the initiative was inappropriate due to the enterprise risk and unknown profitability, and they unsuccessfully requested government support for the effort.