Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Airbus to help develop first supersonic business jet
How would you like to trim three hours off the current commercial jet flight time between Paris and Washington, D.C.?
Or two hours and 48 minutes off the flight between New York and Sao Paulo?
Or two and a half hours between Tokyo and Singapore?
With its Aerion AS2 supersonic business jet, the Nevada-based Aerion Corporation aims to do just that.
Now it has a gigantic new partner to help it realize those ambitions: Airbus.
The two companies announced this week that they'll collaborate on technologies and "capabilities in design, manufacturing and certification" to advance the development of the AS2.
"This is a major step forward for Aerion," said Aerion chairman and principal investor, Robert M. Bass in a statement. "It puts us solidly on track toward our objective of certifying the world's first supersonic business jet in 2021."
"This agreement accomplishes two major objectives," said Aerion CEO Doug Nichols. "It provides validation from the industry leader in aerospace innovation, and it decisively kicks the program into high gear. Each company will benefit."
Aerion was founded in 2002 with the intention of commercializing supersonic aviation technology.
Expertise from Airbus' Defence and Space Division
Using its proprietary supersonic laminar flow technology, Aerion says the AS2 will fly at Mach 1.6 (1,217 mph).
The Airbus group's Defence and Space Division will provide technical and certification support to Aerion, with its engineers working with the company in Nevada.
According to the U.S.-based aviation consulting firm Leeham Company, the aircraft's engine partner hasn't yet been announced.
Aerion says the AS2's newly designed wings reduce overall drag by 20%, allowing for lower fuel consumption and longer range.
Its 30-foot-long cabin is forecast to seat up to 12 passengers in business-style comfort.
All seats can be berthed to sleep four on overnight flights.
The projected price of the AS2 is more than $100 million.
Aerion hopes to begin test flights by 2019.
Race to develop supersonic biz jets
A handful of companies are developing private supersonic business jets.
Boston-based Spike Aerospace's S-512 Supersonic Jet is designed to fly at Mach 1.6, while seating 12 to 18 passengers.
The company says the plane will fly from London to New York in three hours and from Los Angeles to Tokyo in six hours.
UK-based HyperMach is developing the SonicStar, a business jet it claims will be capable of reaching Mach 4 (about 2,600 mph, or almost twice the speed of the Concorde), and which it says will be able to make the flight from New York to Dubai "in the time it takes to watch an inflight movie."
The company has said the plane could enter production in the 2020s.
The world's only supersonic passenger jet service ended in October 2003 when British Airways retired the Concorde from service.
The Concorde had a cruising speed of 1,350 mph, more than twice the speed of sound. A typical London to New York flight took a little less than three and a half hours, as opposed to about eight hours for subsonic flights.
Modern commercial long-haul jets typically cruise at speeds between 480 and 560 mph.