GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – The word “Greensboro” wasn’t uttered, but the manufacturing of the supersonic jet that will take place at a factory at Piedmont Triad International Airport was on an international stage today.
Boom Supersonic is investing $500 million to build that manufacturing facility on a plot near I-73 and Old Oak Ridge Road at PTIA, and Boom Chief Technology Officer Brian Durrence was part of a panel discussion at IWC’s Watches and Wonders conference in Geneva, Switzerland, that was streamed live this morning.
Durrence and Matt Pearson, founder and CEO of a company called Airspeeder, were interviewed by Mike Christensen of GQ magazine about the innovations that will move people faster in the future – and looking good doing it.
You know about Boom, which is developing the next supersonic transport jet that will fly at roughly 1304.36 miles per hour and transport 65 to 80 passengers from New York to London in about 3.5 hours. The company’s goal is to make air travel faster, sustainable and affordable, Durrence said during the presentation.
Airspeeder, for the record, is perfecting a flying, electric racing car that it sees as a precursor to modern personal travel. “We’re all going to get flying cars. It’s not if; it’s when,” Pearson said.
But Boom’s concept is a much more immediate enterprise than flying cars. United Airlines has bought 15 of the jets that are expected to roll off the line in Greensboro by 2029. There is an option for 35 more. The U.S. Air Force also is a partner.
Durrence said he got into this high-speed, new-age innovation because as a child he “consumed way too much science fiction.” At times when answering Christensen’s questions, he sounded like he was reading a teleprompter script from his company’s marketing materials, but he drove home the points.
He talked about the speed of the Overture, the company’s planned commercial jet, and the plan to produce Overture to fly at net carbon zero, meaning its fuel would be non-petroleum and developed from reusable products.
“Our ultimate vision is to make the world dramatically more accessible,” Durrence said. “We will do that with speed, safety and sustainability.”
Tangential references to Greensboro came when Durrence was talking about sustainable manufacturing.
“We want people to travel without adverse effects on the planet,” he said. “We are leaning in on technologies, like sustainable aviation fuels. The Overture is carbon-neutral. This is how we manage our manufacturing facilities.
“We are founded on three principles – speed, safety and sustainability. We can’t succeed without them.”
Boom’s facility in Greensboro would build Overtures – the company calls it “The Overture Superfactory” – provide for customers and suppliers and then service those jets, Boom Chief Business Officer Kathy Savitt said at the announcement back in January. The company will hire about 1,761 initially and have an apprentice program for students from North Carolina colleges, but she said that workforce is expected to grow to 2,400 at PTI by 2032.
One element of that work is design. Christensen asked Durrence and Pearson why the innovations of tomorrow had to look so good in development.
“Design unlocks the power of supporting technologies to make safe and sustainable,” Durrence said. “Every design [of the Overture] is part of that, including the floor-to-ceiling windows. … This is where the digital design world and the real world of hardware meet.
“We’ve already shrunk the world to one flight. What else can you do but speed up travel? You do anything you can do to improve humanity.”