Supersonic deals for Rolls-Royce

Virgin Galactic Mach 3 aircraft design

Bondholder Rolls-Royce has signed with Virgin Galactic to design engines that would power the world’s first supersonic jet since Concorde was retired in 2003.

Moreover, the Derby-based technology company has also announced an engagement agreement to explore the pairing of one of its propulsion systems with aerospace company Boom Supersonic’s flagship supersonic passenger aircraft, Overture, aiming to build the world’s fastest civil aircraft.

Rolls-Royce North America chairman & CEO, Tom Bell, said: “Rolls-Royce brings a unique history in high speed propulsion, going back to the Concorde, and offers world-class technical capabilities to develop and field the advanced propulsion systems needed to power commercially available high-Mach travel.”

Having designed the engine for Concorde, Rolls-Royce has now penned a memorandum of understanding to work with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic on a small jet that can fly at 2,000 mph – or MCH 3 – at heights of around 60,000 ft. It is thought the new aircraft will be able to carry between nine and 19 passengers.

In addition, the collaboration between Rolls-Royce and Boom will involve teams from the both companies working in engine-airframe matching activities for Boom’s flagship supersonic passenger aircraft, Overture.

The priorities of this engagement are informed by Boom and Rolls-Royce’s shared commitment to sustainability. Both companies recognize that supersonic passenger travel has to be compatible with a net-zero carbon future, and the two teams will work together to address sustainability in Overture design and operations. Overcoming the technological challenges of supersonic flight provides a unique opportunity to accelerate innovation sustainably.

Simon Carlisle, Director of Strategy at Rolls-Royce, said: “We share a strong interest in supersonic flight and in sustainability strategies for aviation with Boom. We’re now building on our valuable experience in this space as well as our previous work together to further match and refine our engine technology for Boom’s Overture.”

Blake Scholl, Boom founder and CEO, added: “We’ve had a series of valuable collaborations and co-locations with Rolls-Royce over the past years to lay the groundwork for this next phase of development. We look forward to building on the progress and rapport that we’ve already built with our collaboration as we work to refine Overture’s design and bring sustainable supersonic transport to passenger travel.”