NUMECA Partners with Boom Supersonic

The next-gen supersonic airliner is being designed with NUMECA CFD.

It’s been over 15 years since the world has seen commercial supersonic air transport, when the Concorde was retired in 2003.

Now that is all about to change with the Overture supersonic airliner, which is currently in development from U.S. startup Boom Supersonic.

Figure 1. Boom's Overture. (Image courtesy of Boom Supersonic.)

Figure 1. Boom’s Overture. (Image courtesy of Boom Supersonic.)

The Overture will feature 55 seats, a carbon fiber composite fuselage, and three efficient turbofan engines (as opposed to Concorde’s thirsty turbojets), as well as be capable of whisking passengers to their destinations at a face-melting Mach 2.2 at altitudes of up to 60,000 feet, enabling passengers to see the Earth’s curvature.

Naturally, flight at supersonic speeds comes with its own challenges (that’s why nobody else has built a supersonic airliner for nearly two decades)—aerodynamic heating, stresses and supersonic inlet airflows all add to the complexity.

But we are now in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, so we have a whole bunch of computational resources to help simulate these kinds of problems…resources that simply were not imaginable when Concorde was designed decades ago.

Enter NUMECA, which recently announced collaboration with Boom Supersonic.

NUMECA, known in the aerospace industry for its range of CFD simulation software, will be providing the means for Boom Supersonic to model and simulate its aircraft as it passes into the supersonic flight regime, allowing engineers at Boom to refine their design and hit their performance targets and develop a truly efficient supersonic airliner. Efficiency is the key word here—it’s something that the Concorde and the Tupolev Tu-144 (the Soviet supersonic airliner) were both sorely lacking, which contributed to their commercial downfall.

“At NUMECA, our prime focus is helping our clients, such as Boom, develop their products under real-world conditions by ensuring the highest reliability of performance prediction, at a fraction of the computational cost of competitors’ solutions,” said Prof Charles Hirsch, president of NUMECA International. “In partnering with Boom, we’re excited to contribute to bringing supersonic travel to a commercial audience and assist in the development of Overture.”

Through this partnership, Boom is aiming to create a dramatically streamlined and highly automated workflow, which will utilize NUMECA’s expertise in creating solutions that provide quality results with the highest reliability and the fastest solution time of any code, amplifying the strengths of Boom’s design team.

“In the first pilot project we attained results up to 14x faster than with our previous design environment,” said Tim Conners, lead propulsion engineer at Boom. “This gives Boom the ability to test more conditions, try more design ideas, and save millions of dollars in compute resources—yielding a more efficient aircraft in less time and for lower cost than we originally planned for.” 

Figure 2. CFD pressure plot showing pressure at inlet. (Image courtesy of NUMECA.)

Figure 2. CFD pressure plot showing pressure at inlet. (Image courtesy of NUMECA.)

Boom’s supersonic demonstrator, the XB-1, is set to break the sound barrier sometime in 2019, and is aiming to reach Mach 2.2 shortly after.

You can read more about NUMECA’s CFD solutions over at this link.