United is investing in supersonic planes that can 'cut travel times in half'

United Airlines is dropping $3 billion on new supersonic planes that could take you from Newark to London in three-and-a-half hours by the end of the decade.

The airline on Thursday announced it will buy 15 supersonic Overture jets from Boom Technology for $200 million a plane in a deal worth $3 billion, with an option to purchase 35 more, Bloomberg reports. The planes will be able to seat up to 88 people, and they can "cut travel times in half," according to United.

"Capable of flying at speeds of Mach 1.7 — twice the speed of today's fastest airliners — Overture can connect more than 500 destinations in nearly half the time," United said. "Among the many future potential routes for United are Newark to London in just three and a half hours, Newark to Frankfurt in four hours and San Francisco to Tokyo in just six hours."

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Overture is also expected to be the "first commercial aircraft to be net-zero carbon from day one, capable of flying on 100 percent sustainable aviation fuels," United said.

The company is eying a return of supersonic commercial flights for the first time since the Concorde was retired in 2003, Bloomberg notes. Still, The New York Times reports that Boom Technology's plans "have already slipped at least once, and it will have to overcome many obstacles, including securing approval from the Federal Aviation Administration and regulators in other countries."

For now, though, Boom Technologies is looking for the Overture to start carrying passengers by 2029.

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.