Company Nears Decision on Manufacturing Partner
Aerion Corporation is nearing a decision on an aerospace
manufacturing partner to lead the development and production of its
pioneering supersonic business jet design.
The next step is to carry out a pre-launch phase jointly with
the manufacturer to confirm the Aerion SSBJ performance, costs and
market, prior to formal launch in the third quarter of 2010.
Thereafter a five-year program is planned so that the Aerion SSBJ
could be flying in 2013 and certified by late 2015.
The $80 million Aerion supersonic jet relies on a concept known
as supersonic natural laminar flow to reduce airframe drag, thereby
reducing engine power requirements and fuel consumption. The
patented concept was developed by Dr. Richard Tracy, Aerion’s
chief technology officer, and demonstrated in NASA flight tests and
in transonic wind tunnel testing.
The Aerion jet flies with efficiency comparable to a large
subsonic business jet when operating below the speed of sound,
making it practical for use over populous areas where sonic booms
are prohibited. At supersonic cruise speeds up to Mach
1.6—nearly double the speed of most of today’s
jets—it also operates at costs competitive with large
“Both our customers and aerospace manufacturers are
looking beyond the current economic turmoil,” said Aerion
Vice Chairman Brian Barents. “These companies understand that
they need to think five to ten years ahead and have new products in
the pipeline. The development timeline for the Aerion supersonic
business jet fits well with this sort of planning
The aircraft can operate under today's regulatory speed
restrictions with better performance than current large jets and
equivalent economics. The Aerion supersonic jet, for example, can
cruise efficiently at speeds from .95 to .99 Mach over the
continental U.S., where speeds are limited by regulation to below
This is a key difference from other proposed supersonic designs
that are optimized mainly for supersonic flight. Their proponents
view changing current speed regulations as essential for market
success. The success of the Aerion program is not predicated on a
rules change because the aircraft will offer attractive performance
even under current regulations.
As a result of its straight wing design and full span flaps,
typical approach speed will be 120 knots and the aircraft will be
able to operate routinely from business airports with 6,000-foot