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Tue, Jun 16, 2009

Aerion Supersonic Biz-Jet Order Book at $4 Billion

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 business jets.

“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 horizon.”

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 Mach 1.

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 runways.

FMI: www.aerioncorp.com

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