25 January 2023
GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – Boom Supersonic’s fledgling facility to build a supersonic commercial airliner at Piedmont Triad International Airport, first announced just about a year ago, appears ready to take wing.
First. Boom scheduled an event for Thursday afternoon at the airport and promised Gov. Roy Cooper and Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) along with company officials would be among the dignitaries who would attend what would appear to be the gold-shoveled official ground-breaking for the 62-acre site Boom has chosen for its so-named superfactory.
Then on Tuesday afternoon the PTI Airport Authority approved in principle a lease agreement that secures the site in a formal partnership that includes BE&K Construction, which will build the facility, and the state’s Community Economic Development Agreement executed last January.
This comes almost exactly a year after Boom, based in Denver, received about $130 million in government incentives to invest $500 million to build Overture, its supersonic, transcontinental passenger jet, at PTI.
American Airlines in August joined United Airlines, Japan Airlines and the United States Air Force through Grumman Northrup as customers for Boom, which plans to have its first passengers in the air by 2029.
The company will hire 1,761 employees during the next five years at an average minimum annual salary of $68,000, and this 40-year lease runs for 81 pages. They await all the formal signatures, airport spokesperson Kimberly Hodges told WGHP.
The document lays out in detail how the $56.75 million the state contributed for hangar construction and the $15 million for site preparation will be spent, and it specifies an option that expires on Dec. 31, 2030. for an additional airport expansion site, a concept the PTIA board had approved last summer.
The Christman Company was hired in November to be the contract administrator, and numerous subcontracts are noted in the document. The document lays out its role, too.
In a visit last month to announce a partnership arrangement to develop the engine for Overture, CEO Blake Scholl had promised to return this year for the official ground-breaking. But site preparations already had been underway and dirt had been moved.
The lease notes responsibility for adherence to environmental concerns. There are also stipulations for the role of the Federal Aviation Authority to provide approvals for the addition of the expansion site.
Maps for the property, just west and perhaps a little north of the main terminal, show how two hangars would be built on the original parcel, and there is the construction plan for a cross-grounds taxiway that could link up to airport’s overpass at Interstate 73 and connect to hundreds of acres on the other side of that highway.
Terms of lease
Boom is required to pay the airport authority $11,300 a month in rent until occupancy and then $22,601 per month thereafter. These are prorated based on square footage.
If the expansion site is added to the lease, Boom will owe an additional $25,693 monthly based on projected square footage. That could rise to about $28,776 based on inflation, timing and other factors.
There also specific requirements for what Boom can’t do as it is building its aircraft. Boom can’t do engine “runups” on airport property, and its aircraft are to avoid creating sonic booms during the overland portions of flights, which officials mentioned during the original announcement.
Last month, Scholl sang about a new engine concept to be called Symphony, perhaps to be built at what he called the “future birthplace of Overture.” Boom is partnering with Florida Turbine Technologies – a subsidiary of Kratos Turbine – a company with a long history of building commercial and defense engines, General Electric Additives, a technology leader, and StandardAero, an engine maintenance company, to build Symphony.
Scholl said this was a solution that had been discussed “since earlier this year ,” or even before Rolls-Royce Aviation stepped away as Boom’s engine partner in September.
The engine element has been a sticking point, because Boom aspires that its jets will fly at supersonic speeds on fuel that is 100% carbon net-zero, meaning that they would use no petroleum fuel and be environmentally friendly.
Boom in its literature describes Symphony as “a medium-bypass turbofan engine with the same basic engine architecture that currently powers all modern commercial aircraft.”
FTT, based in Jupiter, Florida, has a history in mostly smaller engines, such as for drones and cruise missiles. GE brings history in 3-D metal manufacturing and developing production technology. StandardAero has a long record of maintaining aircraft engines. Scholl called the partners “world-class suppliers.”
The Overture will use four of the Symphony engines to reach a speed of Mach 1.7, which is roughly 1304.36 miles per hour. That’s slightly slower than the now-retired Concorde, which reached 1,350 miles, but it’s sufficient to get passengers from New York to London in 3.5 hours, the company says.
Boom suggests that its jet will fly more than 500 routes to destinations around the world, with a range of 4,888 miles.
The “sustainable aviation fuel” is described by the U.S. Department of Energy as being made from “renewable biomass and waste resources,” which could be corn, algae or wood products.