BUSINESS AT MACH SPEED
Into the Blue at Mach Speed with an Airbus and Aerion Innovative Partnership to Create State of the Art Multi-Million Dollar Supersonic Business Jet
October 24, 2003, was the last flight of the Concorde, the supersonic jet that promised, and delivered for 27 years, luxurious transatlantic flights from New York to London in less than four hours. Business travelers that have since longed for the speed and comfort of another supersonic flight will finally be able to travel faster than the speed of sound once again. At the recent National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) convention held in Orlando, leaders from Airbus and Aerion Supersonic announced their partnership to create the world’s first supersonic business jet. This collaboration will bring together Aerion’s proprietary supersonic laminar flow technology with Airbus’ technical and certification support resulting in greater business effectiveness over long distance flights.
Test flights for what is labeled the Aerion AS2 will not begin until 2019 with commercials flights projected to start in 2021. Built for speed as well as comfort, the Aerion AS2 will be able to reach speeds of Mach 1.6, or 1200 mph, (commercial long-haul jets typically cruise at between 480-560 mph), with a cruising speed of Mach 1.1 to 1.2. In other words, business travel will once again be about four hours from London to New York. Currently, air speeds above Mach 1 are prohibited in US airspace, but high speeds on transoceanic routes will clearly make up any lost time. The AS2 will have a projected range of 5,450 statute miles, meaning it would be able to fly San Francisco to Tokyo or London to Seattle nonstop.
Airbus CEO, Allan McArtor, is confident the supersonic jet will happen. “It is long overdue,” says McArtor. “We should be flying supersonic business jets by now. We want to be ahead for the future and we don’t want to read that someone else is doing it.” Billionaire investor and Aerion Chairman, Robert M. Bass noted, “This puts us solidly on track toward our objective of certifying the world’s first supersonic business jet in 2021. Needless to say, we are thrilled with the resources Airbus Group will bring to the program.”
In addition to the combined technological forces from both companies, Aerion credits newly designed wings for reducing overall drag by up to 20% and allowing for a longer range while consuming less fuel. Additionally, the AS2 will be made mostly of carbon fiber composite materials, further reducing weight while adding great strength and durability. The supersonic jet will boast a cabin 30 feet in length and capable of seating up to 12 passengers comfortably in a business-style setting that is also designed to sleep four for overnight flights. The cost of the AS2 is currently slated to be close to $100 million.
Engineers from the Airbus Defense and Space Division will work with Aerion at its base in Reno, NV providing technical and certification support. This is familiar ground for Airbus and a shot at redemption since retiring its Concorde supersonic jet, ending an era of speedy, comfortable air travel. By any stretch, this won’t be your average rocket landing on an asteroid trip, but a supersonic flight that may have you sipping tea in London within a few hours.