Pontifications: Nope, not convinced about Boom’s new entrant engine plans

Dec. 19, 2022, © Leeham News: Nope. Not convinced.

By Scott Hamilton

Boom’s CEO Blake Scholl last week announced that he’s put together a group of three companies to work with his firm to design an engine for his Overture supersonic transport.

None of the companies—including Boom—has designed a big jet engine, let alone one for a commercial airliner or an SST.

Yet Scholl said Overture’s first flight will slip only a year, from 2026 to 2027, and entry into service is still set for 2029.

No way will this happen.

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The three companies are Florida Turbine Technologies, which will design the engines; GE Additive, which will consult on ways to fabricate engine parts through additive manufacturing technology; and StandardAero, which will be Boom’s MRO partner and will consult on making the engines easy to maintain.

Florida Turbine is a subsidiary of Kratos Defense & Security Solutions. It has designed small jet engines for drones and cruise missiles. But not for big jets or SSTs.

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First flight in 2026?

Scholl claimed last week the first flight of Overture will be in 2026. Not a chance. Not for a prototype pre-production airplane. It takes years to develop an engine, sometimes decades. Just ask GE/Safran/CFM, Rolls-Royce, and Pratt & Whitney—those that know their business when it comes to airliner engines and military supersonic fighter engines.

Pratt & Whitney fiddled with the geared turbofan concept for more than 20 years before having a commercially viable design now used on the Airbus A220, Airbus A320, and Embraer E2 Jet. (The GTF was launched for the Mitsubishi MRJ70/90, but as we know, Mitsubishi killed this program with the change of CEOs in 2020. The GTF also was slated to go on the Irkut MC-21, but this is dead with Russian sanctions due to its invasion of Ukraine.) Even so, the engine had serious teething problems (though not with the gearbox) since entering service in 2016.

CFM, which is owned by GE and Safran, developed the new technology for the LEAP engine used on the A320 and Boeing 737 MAX. R&D predated the launch of the A320neo in December 2010 and the MAX in July 2011. The A320 EIS was in December of 2016 and the MAX in May 2017. Years of development to official program launch to EIS. The LEAP, like GTF, has annoying durability issues with some of its ceramic coatings and parts even today.

GE developed the giant GE9X for the Boeing 777X. Development issues delayed the first flight by about nine months, to January 2020. Since then, design issues arose that set back the program some more.

How can Scholl claim with a straight face that these new entrants into large jet/SST engines will have an engine ready in three years and EIS will be on schedule in six years?

Regulatory oversight

It’s worth remembering that GE, Safran, P&W, and RR all passed on developing an engine for Overture. And it costs billions of dollars to develop and engine. Where is Boom getting this money?

But aside from the money, development skills, and R&D required to develop new engines, regulatory oversight is an entirely new arena following the Boeing 737 MAX crisis. With Boom being a new entrant, Overture a new design, new entrants into engine development for an airliner, and for SST operations, one can only shudder at what the regulatory oversight is going to be like. And how long it will take? Plus, what special conditions may be required?

Oversight is going to be a slog that could make the MAX and 777X oversight by the Federal Aviation Administration look efficient and speedy by comparison.

Additionally, Boom’s own track record of meeting schedules is poor.


As Mitsubishi learned, getting ready for a global product support system is needed. Mitsubishi solved this problem by buying Bombardier’s CRJ program and global product support system. Boom needs an instant global system, too. Then there’s the learning curve for the production line. And aircraft operating cost economics.

There’s still too much uncertainty to take this program to the finish line. Way too much uncertainty.


Finally, few have focused on the claims of 4,250nm in range. However, reserves for hold time and diverting to alternates and considering headwinds can shave 15% to 20% off the advertised range. This sharply reduces the utility of the aircraft.

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Air Wars, The Global Combat Between Airbus and Boeing

With Boeing’s announcement that it won’t introduce a new airplane till the mid-2030 decade, Airbus’s position as the leading aircraft manufacturer is cemented well into the 2040 decade. Read how Airbus came from nowhere to surpass Boeing in Air Wars, the Global Combat Between Airbus and Boeing. Air Wars looks at 35 years of sales and product strategy moves by the duopoly. It follows the career of John Leahy, who was in Airbus sales for 33 years and the head of sales for more than two decades. Leahy was credited by many as the key to Airbus’ success, though this is a simplistic assessment. Leahy likes to point out that he and his team lost 40% to 60% of the sales depending on the measuring point.

Air Wars begins with the big gamble by Leahy to win a huge order from American Airlines for the A320 family. American at the time was an exclusive customer of Boeing. This deal caused Boeing to launch a re-engined version of the 737, which was branded the MAX.

Air Wars then takes a step back to introduce Leahy while in college and a taxi driver in New York City. From there, the book reports one sales campaign after another, with wins and losses by Airbus and Boeing. The book concludes with the MAX grounding, the COVID pandemic, and finally, the retirement of Leahy, Conner, and other key players.





























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33 Comments on “Pontifications: Nope, not convinced about Boom’s new entrant engine plans

  1. Scott is right of course, only look at the Chinese effort to develop a new engine, pumping in billions and thousands of smart people.

    10 Years and billions to develop, build, test and certify & billions to set of full blown supply chain, production and assembly. Globally only 5-6 OEMS have the (tribal) knowledge, experience and capabilities.

    Rapid prototyping, additive manufacturing, new materials, transformational design tools, disruptive technology? -> Add another 10 years..

    Issue is you are positioned as old school, pessimistic, blocking progress if you don’t sing along with the incredible promises and progress, all the breakthroughs that are just around the corner.

    I hope spin-off (knowledge, technology, developments) of these high speed & eVOTL projects is valuable and that the people investing in them are aware of aerospace innovation realities.

    • You would think that, for all the reasons you and Scott listed above, this isn’t going to happen – and for the most part, you’d be right.

      The only exception to the rule, I’d have to point out, is our favorite money burning, trust fund baby billionaire Elon, who has managed to beat the pants off of Boeing in the race to get rockets into space.

      Is the case a mirror situation? No.

      Boom doesn’t have the deep pockets like SpaceX, who can throw money at any problem. Mind you, no one has ever landed booster rockets back on Earth, like they are doing. This alone is probably one of the biggest impediments to getting it done; you can’t do it on a shoe string budget.

      There is a history of how to do things and Boom is not inventing a whole new technology of flight – SpaceX had the lessons of the Mercury / Gemini / Apollo programs (along with the Shuttle and other space programs) while Boom can draw on Concorde and all the teachings since Yeager broke the sound barrier.

      Honestly, SpaceX surprised me. Can it be re-created? The financial side of me says no. Who knows, maybe this is what they are gunning for – someone with money to step in and take over, as long as they can show progress.

      • Then, there has to be a market. Apparently space launches are booked for a long time. Flying 4000NM, gaining a few hours, giving in on comfort and paying much more than e.g. a big Business Class mini cabin, or ACJ321XLR seat. And having to explain your family & customers, share holders why.. “SAF” won’t foul them.

        Rolls will start running Ultra Fan Q 2023. We have an idea how much resources /time that took.. Forget miracles, this is aerospace.


        • @keesje

          Yes – that is true. There is another market that has developed in recent years. I call it the ‘see and be seen’ crowd, the get rich quick crowd who spend like drunken sailors and are always trying to out do each other. The influencers, youtubers and all of their ilk – who’s followers can’t seem to be able to put down their phones for 5 minutes.

          Every Tom, Dick & Harry will be going into debt up to their eyeballs, to try and get on these flights…IMO.

          If this thing ever rolls out, I would also expect it to replace the “G” as the ultimate status symbol.

          These people aren’t logical…

        • @Keejse

          Even with Zoom and other video conferencing ways, there is plenty of business travel between NYC and Europe for example. That if one offered a way to halve the flying time between the two, it will routinely sell out. The market is there.

          I just do not believe this company will be the one to create the Concorde successor.

          • @williams

            I would tend to agree. However, I don’t know their background….are they plane guys?

          • but it won’t. it will take 2 hours off a NY-London trip at 4x the trip cost of a regular business jet, never mind the increased purchase, maintenance and other costs..

          • “It will routinely sell out”.


            Here are two eastbound flight options for your next business trip from NYC to Europe:
            1. Subsonic business class: leave NYC (e.g.) 8pm local, arrive LHR (e.g.) 8am local. 7 hours flight, flat bed. Plan right and you’ll get 5-6 hours sleep. Cost $x
            2. Supersonic. Leave NYC (e.g.) 10pm local, arrive LHR (e.g.) 7 am local. 4 hours flight, reclining seat. Cost $2x? $3x? $4x?
            Other than tone-deaf bragging rights, what is the benefit of the supersonic eastbound that would justify a price premium rather than a discount?

            Here’s a very good analysis of Boom’s challenges from last year by Robert Boyle, who was Head of Network Planning at British Airways for the last five years of Concorde’s service life: https://www.gridpoint.consulting/blog/has-the-time-come-for-a-return-to-supersonic-travel

        • @Pedro

          Easy fix. Elon’s just gonna sell more Tesla shares. Mars is waiting for him. *snicker*

          (On a side note; for all his bluster and BS, he does attempt to do some things. TWTR isn’t one of them.)

          • Elon won’t inject his own cash until SpaceX’s valuation comes back to “earth”.

            Remember his flamethrowers and Boring Co.? Elon is good at leveraging OPM for his fantasies. It’s all fun when the Fed is pumping free money around. Not any more.

          • @Pedro

            ‘Elon won’t inject his own cash until SpaceX’s valuation comes back to “earth”.’

            SpaceX is a privately held company – it’s not public. He (or whomever else he has with him in it) owns the shares. There is no market valuation, like you have in a publicly traded company where it’s shares outstanding x share price, as a valuation.

          • @Frank

            Why SpaceX raised capital repeatedly in recent years? Cash drains. Did Elon inject his own money in recent years? Zero, zip, zilch, nada.

            – Jan 20, 2015
            Google and Fidelity Put $1 Billion Into SpaceX
            Google and Fidelity have invested in the rocketry company founded by Elon Musk …

            – [T]he company has expenses of “roughly $800 million to $900 million” a year. Over 21 months, that works out to approximately $650 million in revenue, versus perhaps $1.5 billion in expenses. Translation: SpaceX is not cash flow positive today. Neither is it profitable.

            – In an expose compiled from “exclusive … internal documents” — probably obtained from the “former SpaceX employees” that it interviewed —the Journal confirms that SpaceX has in fact been losing money since at least the beginning of 2015. Says the Journal, not only did SpaceX rack up losses of $260 million in 2015, but it actually incurred “an operating loss every quarter, and also negative cash flow of roughly $15 million.” For the record, this means SpaceX was losing money nearly one year before the company removed the famous “profitable and cash-flow positive” assertion from its website.

            – Feb 17, 2021
            “Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s latest funding round valuing it at about $74 billion was led by Sequoia Capital, according to a person familiar with the matter.
            Other investors in the $850 million round included Valor Equity Partners, Coatue Management, D1 Capital Partners and Fidelity Investments, said the person.”

            – June 13, 2022
            SpaceX Raises $1.68 Billion, Under Its Targeted Financing Goal
            Elon Musk’s SpaceX raised $1.68 billion in fresh financing, less than what it had offered investors for a stake in the closely held rocket launch and satellite company.

            – Google co-founder Brin orders sale of Musk investments after affair: Report
            Google co-founder Sergey Brin instructed his advisers to sell his personal investments in Elon Musk’s companies in recent months after learning that he had a brief affair with his wife, according to the Wall Street Journal.
            Musk, the co-founder of Tesla Inc., had an alleged liaison in early December in Miami with Nicole Shanahan, the Journal said, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. That ended the long friendship between Musk, 51, and Brin, who helped support the electric carmaker during the 2008 financial crisis. Brin, 48, filed for divorce from Shanahan in January

          • @Pedro

            Oh I agree – he may be trying to get other people to throw in their money, along with his. He did so with the TWTR deal as well (was it Paul Allen who put in a cool billion?).

            Point I was trying to make, is that there is no market setting the value of the company. It’s whatever he and his investors decide it’s worth…

          • TSLA shares going down drain
            Elon: from paper rich, cash poor -> ???

            -> “Tesla’s last proxy statement disclosed that at the end of March, Musk had about half of his Tesla shares already pledged to secure an existing margin loan. […]
            But since the March update, Tesla’s shares are down more than 50%, meaning Musk would likely needed to have pledged more shares to satisfy margin calls unless he repaid some of his existing loan.

          • Insiders have the last laugh I guess

            > “[…] Collectively the brass at Tesla appear to have unloaded 126 million Tesla shares for more than $41 billion.

            Brother Kimball was the most prescient seller, nearly top-ticking $109 million at $409.69 a share on 11/5/21, the Friday before Elon’s weekend tweet suggesting he’d be selling on Monday. Who knew. Great instinct little brother.

            Against a current 3.158 billion shares outstanding (not including more insider dilution to come), the sales of 126 million shares represent only 4% of the shares out but the $41 billion in proceeds is more than 10% of the current $389 billion market cap. Perspective.

            Putting the $41 billion in insider sales into further perspective, over the history of the company Tesla raised $32 billion in equity and earned cumulative profits of $9 billion. Cumulative cash flow from operations totals $32 billion. Book value foots to $41 billion.


          • Cont’d

            -> “Insiders have sold shares worth more than equity capital raised, cumulative profit (regardless of how measured), or book value, which adds equity capital raised plus cumulative profit. The company has never paid a dividend. Who’s winning here?

      • Not sure if SpaceX is making money since it is private, but it has caused the European Space Agency to look at getting launch costs down so as to compete with SpaceX. The Ariane 6…………Whenever it goes into service, in the meantime ESA will use SpaceX for two launches.

        Back to Boom, really wish it success, but my non engineering opinion thinks their product should be a little bigger, but then again that means bigger non existent engines too.

    • P&W Weat Palm Beach is pretty close, so lots of the engineering managers come from it, so there is a big chance the design will be a F119 derivative that was a F404 derivative since the Navy tried their own “Great Engine War” but stopped after P&W built a few F404’s. Hence lots of the manuals and procedures will smell P&W. If the money flow is enough is anybody’s guess but if they really get going both P&W and Honywell would like to swallow them and add red tape and increase prices.

  2. For an example a little less dramatic, think of how long it took for Airbus to bring the A400M into operation.

  3. Only adder for me is PW did not fiddle with GTF, they worked at it and spent some serious money doing so. Amazing a US company had the management buy in for a not remotely for sure return.

    Or to put it another way, Dictators fiddle and engineers work at things.

    • Interesting indeed, PW kept investing for 20 years, despite setbacks, and are now getting the rewards for their persistance and long term strategy.

  4. The old saying:
    If you don`t have an engine, you don`t have a program
    will show to be true once again.

    Same as Boeing with NMA, there`s no program without a modern, efficient engine that provides a solid improvement over the existing engines.

    To develop a new hypersonic engine sounds like a fairy tale, no way Boom has the financial abilities nor the engeneering capabilities.

    It was never a very realistic project, yet alone the world is moving into effciency and aproaches like Lilium go into alternative engines.
    But to build a questionable hypersonic small plane, with questionable market perspective, and then develop your own engine?
    That timeframe is so unrealistic, especially if you account for all the what ifs and the rookie mistakes.

    Boom is doomed.

  5. ” … plenty of business travel between NYC and Europe for example”

    Is it big enough for the Concorde?? Shrugged.

        • @ bilbo

          No it was not profitable for Airbus who had the maintenance contract but for British Airways, it was.

          Airbus and Air France wanted the Concorde to go away.

    • “If you don`t have an engine, you don`t have a program will show to be true once again.” Is true normal company funded programs. But in the world of start-ups you only need to appear to have an engine. Startups sell the sizzle I bet this gets them another 3 years of funding at least.

  6. “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

    Thomas Watson, president of IBM, 1943 🙂

    • I think a better parallel is “maybe bigger than the Internet” said of the Segway by John Doer, VC behind Netscape.

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