Dec. 14—GUILFORD COUNTY — A startup company planning to build supersonic passenger jets here announced Tuesday it will partner with three aviation companies to develop and build engines for them, an announcement that comes after several major engine manufacturers passed on the project.
Boom Supersonic executives unveiled their jet engine plans during a ceremony at Piedmont Triad International Airport, which is where the company announced 11 months ago that it planned to build an aircraft manufacturing operation.
Boom Supersonic has pledged to create 1,760 jobs and invest $500 million in the project through the end of the decade.
Company founder and CEO Blake Scholl told the audience gathered on the PTIA terminal upper concourse that Boom Supersonic will team with Florida Turbine Technologies for engine design, GE Additive for additive technology design consulting and StandardAero for maintenance operations. The jet engine will be called Symphony, while the plane will be called Overture.
"Developing a supersonic engine specifically for Overture offers by far the best value proposition for our customers," Scholl said.
The decision by Boom Supersonic to head its own jet engine development comes after Rolls Royce backed out of its collaboration with the company and other major engine manufacturers declined to pursue it. The Boom Supersonic design partner, Florida Turbine Technologies, develops gas turbines and may be best known for small engines used on drones and cruise missiles.
The aviation website Simple Flying noted that while none of the three partners announced Tuesday is well known in commercial aviation, FTT has offices around the world, and when it was bought March 2019 by California-based Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, that company's CEO said it was Kratos' goal to develop advanced engines for hypersonic propulsion.
StandardAero doesn't make engines but does maintenance and repairs for business, commercial and military planes.
The aviation and economic stakes of the project couldn't be much higher. Boom Supersonic is seeking to be the first to reenter the potentially lucrative market of supersonic commercial flight, which has confronted decades of roadblocks because of deafening sonic booms from the previous generation of jets, environmental issues and expensive tickets for passengers.
Scholl said Tuesday that Boom Supersonic remains optimistic about the future of Overture. The company plans to start construction next year on the manufacturing complex at PTIA, with production of aircraft beginning in 2024, rollout of the first completed jets in 2026 and Federal Aviation Administration certification to launch commercial flights in 2029.
Site preparation is underway for the manufacturing facility on PTIA property on the southeast side of Interstate 73. A memorandum of agreement this past summer between the airport and the company indicates that Boom Supersonic has the option to double the size of its property from 61 to 122 acres if it needs to expand.
This past summer, the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority and the N.C. Department of Commerce completed a separate, five-page agreement focused on state economic incentives for the project. The incentives, which are based on Boom Supersonic reaching investment and workforce benchmarks, total $106.7 million.
The largest amount of the incentives — $56.7 million — will go toward reimbursing Boom Supersonic for design and construction costs. Another $35 million will pay for the road leading to the project site, while $15 million will go toward site work.
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