It’s the news about Boom supersonics that av-geeks have been waiting for since… well 2003. Why 2003? I’ll explain in a moment.
The leap of faith by US airline United is exactly what aviation startup Boom Technology needed to show the market it was onto a winner with its next-generation supersonic jet.
October 2003 was the last time the world saw a supersonic commercial airliner take to the skies, as the final Corcorde jet landed for the last time and British Airways and Air France retired their remaining aircraft.
It was the end of an era. The romantic super wealthy supersonic jetliner had been fictionalised as the jet of the future. But high fuel costs, low passenger numbers, and a deadly crash in Paris (even though it wasn’t the fault of the aircraft) sealed its fate.
So the decision by one of the world’s biggest airlines to purchase Boom’s new Overture aircraft is huge. Not just because of the delivery, but because of who is buying it. Traditionally, US carriers stick to what they know. Most of the time its Boeing, and sometimes Airbus, but mostly just to keep Boeing on its competitive toes.
“Boom’s vision for the future of commercial aviation, combined with the industry’s most robust route network in the world, will give business and leisure travellers access to a stellar flight experience.”United CEO Scott Kirby
So for one of the old guard to place an order for 15 Overture jets is a really big deal. But is it a really good idea?
The Boom sales pitch
Before we tear the dream apart, let’s look at the promise from Boom and United.
Supersonic flight is when an aircraft travels faster than the speed of sound.
At an altitude of 60,000ft (18,300m), that means flying faster than 660mph (1,060km/h).
A typical passenger jet may cruise at about 560mph (900km/h) but the supersonic Boom Overture is expected to reach speeds of 1,122mph (1,805km/h) – also known as Mach 1.7.
That cuts the flying time over the Atlantic or Pacific literally in half. Something that helped Concorde become the aircraft of choice for busy businessmen.
There’s that great episode of Absolutely Fabulous, where Eddie and Patsie travel to New York and back in a day to buy a door handle, all thanks to the Concorde.
But for the rest of us, and those of us too young to take a keen interest in flash-fashion doorknobs, the Concorde was nothing more than a dream.
Denver-based supersonic developer Boom Technology is promising to bring back the era of supercharged flying.
Is the industry ready?
The flying public, sick of the ever tightening capacity of 737s or A320s probably love the idea of flying to their destinations faster, if it allows them to unpack their legs out of the vacuum seal and cut their journey times in half.
But as Boeing often reminds us, it’s airlines who buy passenger planes, not passengers. And with the price of oil reaching 100 dollars a barrel, efficiency, not speed, has been on the minds of aviation executives for the past 25 years.
It’s one thing to create the supersonic jet of the future, it’s another thing to make it work. Boom says the supersonic Overture will be able to fly on sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and be the first commercial plane to immediately reach net-zero carbon emissions.
Sounds great, except when you think of the logistics to make this happen. Not every aviation expert believes they can.
“Is there infrastructure in the pipeline and existing to ramp up the supply? if this plane takes off in 2029, that’s eight years away. Can we see the ramp up of sustainable aviation fuel and capacity to power this aircraft?” asks aviation journalist Joran Chong.
“I think there’s been a lot of advancements for stable aviation fuel plants in Europe and the US. The technology and science is coming up with more ways to produce sustainable aviation fuel. That’s the ambition, that’s the hope,” Jordan says.
The lesson from the A380
While Boeing was deciding whether to go for speed or efficiency before eventually deciding on the 787 Dreamliner, the US aircraft manufacturer was also in a semi culture war with Airbus over a simple question. Was the future of aviation about flying hub to hub, or flying point to point?
Airbus believed major airports were reaching capacity for available slots, and invested heavily in the double decker A380. Boeing believed future orders would more likely come from airlines wanting to fly more boutique routes for passengers, and opted for smaller aircraft. Airlines like Qantas who fly both the A380 and the 787 found it would be cheaper to put two 787s on the same route as an A380.
The A380 would suffer an untimely death for passengers. Not just because of COVID, but also because airlines just didn’t buy them, or fulfil the orders they thought they might need. While passengers loved the comfort and space of an A380, airlines found them tough to fill.
But might Boom have the opposite problem?
Speed v Space
While the Concorde looked stunningly stylish from the outside, the interior of the supersonic jet left a lot to be desired.
“It was a lot more like premium economy,” says Jordan Chong.
In order to fit as many people into the small aircraft as possible, the seats were far narrower than business travellers are used to today.
Which raises a key question for business travellers who might have to make a choice in 2029. Would you rather fly business class more comfortably, but on a longer journey? Or would you rather fly faster with no flat bed?
“The argument could be made that if you’re flying for only three to four hours, do you really need a lie flat seat given they are short distances? You’re paying for speed rather than comfort or amenity,” Jordan says.
Is there demand for supersonic travel?
Boom Technology seems to think so, but they need more than United to agree. After years of losses, it was only in Concorde’s final years that it began to make a profit for British Airways.
Today, wealthy travellers have many choices. From competitively priced Business Class and First Class fares, to the choice of their own private jets – a lot has changed since the Concorde left our skies.
Boom will begin tests flights of its Overture jets in 2026.
But for now, it’s still only a paper plane.
Snapchat is growing faster than it has in years
Snapchat’s parent company has continued to see record growth – and profit – of the platform
Just a couple of years ago, there were concerns that Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, wouldn’t survive as a standalone company, but the social media platform is growing faster than it has since 2017.
The camera-based messaging app stated it added 13 million daily users during the second quarter of this year – a 23 percent increase from the same time a year ago.
That means 293 million people use Snapchat every day around the world, up from 173 million this time four years ago.
Snapchat’s revenue has also soared 116 percent to $982 million – making it a faster growing business than Twitter or Facebook
Snap CEO Evan Spiegel has said he expects the app’s user base to actually grow faster as pandemic lockdowns end, since Snapchat is designed to be used out and about with friends.
Battle of the Crown: Star Entertainment ditches bid
Australia’s Star Entertainment Group has ditched a bid to merge with Crown Resorts
In the latest showdown in the battle for the Aussie Casinos – Star proposed a merger bid back in May worth $12 billion.
Star Entertainment operates casinos in Sydney, Gold Coast, and Brisbane while Crown operates venues in Melbourne and Perth, while a built casino in Sydney hasn’t been granted permission to open.
The Star merger with Crown would have created an Australian gaming and hospitality giant with a total market value of $12 billion AUD.
Crown shares dive following Star’s announcement
Shares fell as much as 4.2% in early trading today, cleaving its market value to $6.7 billion.
Star, which is best known for its casino in Sydney, said it “remains open to exploring potential value-enhancing opportunities with Crown,” though engagement with Crown on the merger plan had been “limited.” It said it will closely monitor the outcome of the Melbourne investigation, as well as a concurrent probe into Crown’s Perth casino.
In a separate statement, Crown said it remains “willing to engage” with Star in relation to a potential merger. “The board is committed to maximizing value for all Crown shareholders and will carefully consider any proposal that is consistent with this objective,” it said.
Why businesses should be tapping into the world of eSports
Gaming has run a parallel race with tech businesses for years now with many industries embracing the competitive advantages.
It’s no secret that eSports is an area that many gamers imagined thriving since the early days of couch multiplayer – Businesses are now witnessing the momentum first-hand with companies such as ONE eSports acting as a vanguard to this new era.
CEO of ONE eSports, Carlos Alimurung was able to shine some light on the industry looking to explain the benefits for players, sponsors, and streamers.
Mobile gaming, whilst often considered “beneath” many traditional gamers have seen exponential growth with the power of smartphones and mobile devices increasing significantly, and eSports teams have noticed the potential of the games on offer and the convenience with which the platforms contain.
Celebrating the narrative of content creators and players within the industry is another area boasted by ONE eSports as they encourage and promote the players, seeing them as no different to athletes seen on a field, court, or even the Olympics. Though as Carlos explains “eSports doesn’t need the Olympics” – A wonderful expression of confidence for a passionate group of gamers desiring to be taken seriously.
Balancing a traditionally male-dominated industry can be a challenging task for a lot of big businesses which look to make a difference.
Articles outlining the struggles of female employees within game development are rife and deeply troubling, with major developers coming under fire for their response to the traumatic experiences inflicted upon women in the gaming industry.
INCLUSION IS PART OF THEIR INDUSTRY MISSION
They seek to enable and uplift players, streamers, and content creators of all genders to succeed – a breath of fresh air in an otherwise tainted space.
The numbers of female players look to increase with nearly 47% of gamers already being female there is plenty of room to see growth within eSports. (It doesn’t matter what gender you are when you’re on the business end of a no-scope trick shot in the arena!)
With brands like Netflix looking to get involved in the gaming industry, it is no longer a question of how but when other major companies will look to plug in and play.
Brands will also need to get smart about how their marketing will be presented to a younger more active audience (without hitting players over the head with it) Games like the basketball simulator: NBA 2K21 integrated unskippible advertising during loading screens which saw fans upset with being force-fed content onto their screens.
And whilst some could argue this made the game more authentic as advertising of course coats the sporting space, there are definitely more clever ways to do this… the spectacle of an esports arena for instance and the opportunities available have untapped potential, again the key is to be clever with the integration of marketing to Gen Z.
eSport will continue to expand its traditional reach from North America and Southeast Asia through onto Australian shores the question again, is not how but when this will occur as many Aussie gamers go without representation and limited faculty on home soil.
With the pandemic and vaccine rollout yet to play out in full there is a great opportunity to expand the digital market and competitive gaming space worldwide.
For the full chat with Carlos and more gaming goodness check out the rest of Ticker Gaming
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