Greensboro will be launch point for supersonic test flights

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More about Boom Supersonic

Denver-based Boom Supersonic has chosen Greensboro, North Carolina, as the site of its first manufacturing facility. Boom plans to build its updated version of the 1970s-era Concorde SST passenger jet. Here’s more about the company, and more about Boom’s supersonic plane, the Overture.


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Nearly 120 years ago, the Wright Brothers attempted the most famous test flight in history, when it achieved powered flight over the dunes of Kitty Hawk.

In a few years, North Carolina could once again serve as the testing grounds for the future of aviation.

When Boom Supersonic rolls out its Overture jet in 2025, its first test flights will start at Greensboro’s Piedmont Triad International Airport, the new home of its “Overture Superfactory.”

On Wednesday, the state pledged more than $120 million in incentives to land that future factory, which will break ground later this spring. gov. Roy Cooper said the investment will make the state part of the “future of flight.”

Boom expects the Overture to kick-start a new generation of supersonic flight. The company says its technology will provide a sustainable route to hitting supersonic speeds.

But it still has a long way to go to prove its technology is capable of achieving those feats and, most importantly, is safe for travelers.

The Overture’s predecessor, the British Airways- and Air France-operated Concorde SST, stopped flights in 2003 because of a lack of a demand.

That makes Boom’s test flights critical to the company’s future and any chance it reaches its predicted goal of hiring 2,400 people in Greensboro.

Kathy Savitt, president and chief business officer at Boom Supersonic, said in an interview that one of the main reasons it selected Greensboro was its proximity to the coast.

“The location is important because it’s just a half hour subsonic flight away from the ocean,” she said. “Subsonic is what we do over land, supersonic flight is what we do over water.

“So we would go half an hour subsonic, and then Mach 1.7 as soon as we get over water.”

Mach 1.7, roughly 1.304 mph, is faster than the speed of sound.

That speed can half flight time to Europe and Asia, but will also cause aircraft to make a deafening roar.

The noise, known as a sonic boom, has led to strict regulations on where those speeds are allowed, The News & Observer previously reported.

The Concorde SST could only fly transatlantic flights where its thunderous din was inaudible to populous areas.

“We fly supersonic only over water,” Savitt said. “We follow all current noise guidelines, and currently in the United States and really anywhere throughout the world, our planes will only fly supersonic over water.”

Its flight path from Greensboro to the ocean could take it directly over Kitty Hawk.

This story was produced with financial support from a coalition of partners led by Innovate Raleigh as part of an independent journalism fellowship program. The N&O maintains full editorial control of the work. learn more; go to bit.ly/newsinnovate

This story was originally published January 26, 2022 6:35 PM.

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Zachery Eanes is the Innovate Raleigh reporter for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. He covers technology, startups and main street businesses, biotechnology, and education issues related to those areas.

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