GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – Boom Supersonic’s plan to build its manufacturing facility at Piedmont Triad International Airport became official on Tuesday – along with one additional little sonic boom of information.
In signing off on its lease and the release of state revenue for Boom, PTI’s board of directors also approved an option for the company to take on more land in case it wants to expand its facility.
PTI Executive Director Kevin Baker confirmed that the company has taken an option until 2030 on another large parcel to potentially expand its manufacturing facility.
That was the more surprising development as the board formally OKd a memorandum of understanding covering a 40-year lease on the original 61 acres that is just north and east of the main terminal on the south side of I-73. Baker said the groundbreaking has not been scheduled.
And that lease includes the option on additional property. “It’s 61 acres on the other side of I-73,” Baker said in an email to WGHP.
Boom, you may recall, in January announced its plans to build the manufacturing facility for its supersonic passenger jet at PTI. Then last week the company announced a contract to supply 20 of those jets – called Overture – to American Airlines.
American paid a deposit on an order of 20 of the jets, a release from Boom said, and there is an option on an additional 40.
This follows Boom’s existing deals with United Airlines and the U.S. Air Force and Grumman Northrup to develop a military version that also would be built in Greensboro. Overture is scheduled to roll out in 2025 and carry its first passengers by 2029.
Aubrey Scanlan, spokesperson for Boom, said the discussions about the option predated Boom’s new deal with American.
“When we conducted our initial nationwide search to locate the Overture Superfactory, having space available to expand Boom’s footprint was an important consideration,” Scanlan wrote in an email response to questions from WGHP. “The Piedmont Triad International Airport provides Boom with additional space to grow, especially as interest in supersonic travel increases.”
When this might happen — if it does — is another matter. “As you can appreciate, we do not comment on speculation,” Scanlan wrote.
The state, Guilford County and the city of Greensboro all ponied up dollars – about $130 million in round numbers – to lure Boom, and the airport board on Tuesday approved distributing $56.7 million from the state Department of Commerce and $15 million from the state Department of Transportation toward construction and site preparation, the Triad Business Journal reported.
Boom is investing $500 million to build Overture and will hire 1,761 employees during the next five years. The average minimum annual salary would be $68,000.
And other companies are taking notice and showing interest.
Airport Board Chair Paul Mengert mentioned those queries during the board meeting. The airport already is home to HondaJet’s manufacturing facility, Haeco International, a large aerospace supplier, and is a hub for FedEx.
Baker confirmed Mengert’s comment, but he wouldn’t expand on the possibilities. During the announcement there was speculation about supply-chain companies being interested in the airport or at least the area. PTI has more than 1,000 acres available in several large parcels available.
“Can’t mention any names, but in general, they are manufacturing or maintenance organizations,” Baker said in an emailed response to a question from WGHP.
Boom, which is based in Denver, was founded by former Groupon executive Blake Scholl, whose plan was to succeed the Concorde with global supersonic travel in a carbon-neutral jet at affordable ticket prices.
The Overture is designed to cruise at 60,000 feet and 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. Boom also claims to be the only airplane manufacturer to commit to a carbon-neutral, sustainable program, flying 100% on “sustainable aviation fuel,” which the U.S. Department of Energy describes as being made from “renewable biomass and waste resources.” Those could be corn or algae or wood products or similar materials.