A new business jet will get travelers from New York to London in three hours and joins efforts to usher in a new age of supersonic travel.
Nevada-based aerospace firm Aerion announced that it is teaming up with Airbus to create a supersonic jet that will fly at 1,217 mph. That is faster than the speed of sound (about 768 miles per hour at sea level) and almost as fast as the now retired Concorde, which flew at 1,350 mph. Regular commercial airliners typically fly from between 480 - 560 mph.
"This is a major step forward for Aerion," said Aerion chairman, Robert Bass in a statement. "It puts us solidly on track toward our objective of certifying the world's first supersonic business jet in 2021."
The Aerion AS2 business jet will be made mostly from carbon fiber composite material and will use proprietary supersonic laminar flow technology that claims to reduce drag on wings and fuselage by 20 percent. Its 30-foot-long cabin is designed to carry 12 passengers and will have seats that will berth for overnight flights.
Engineers from Airbus' Defense and Space Division will lend their expertise for access to Aerion’s proprietary anti-drag technology, the companies said.
“We see no technical show stoppers,” Aerion CEO Doug Nichols told Bloomberg. “The collaboration with Airbus was an essential piece in order to bring the expertise of a premier aircraft development concern into the fold.”
Currently, the U.S. prohibits aircraft to fly at the speed of sound overland. Aerion said that the AS2 will fly at subsonic speeds over the U.S. and throttle to Mach 1.6, or 1.6 times the speed of sound, while crossing the ocean. Over Europe, the plane will be able to reach Mach 1.2 without a boom that’s perceptible on the ground, Nichols told Bloomberg.
There are other companies developing supersonic business jets, such as Boston-based Spike Aerospace with S-512 Supersonic Jet is designed to fly at Mach 1.6, and the U.K.-based HyperMach’s SonicStar claiming it can reach Mach 4 (about 2,600 mph).
The cost of the Aerion AS2 will be about $100 million. Aerion hopes test flights will begin by 2019 and for certification by 2021.
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