Aerion's Supersonic Bizjet Programs Moving at Subsonic Speeds
Aerion Corp. is continuing work on its supersonic business jet (SSBJ), but the pace is not quite as fast as the Mach 1.6 its twinjet is expected to achieve. The company spent the earlier part of this year validating its performance projections for its SSBJ and refining its business case. Brian Barents, Aerion’s vice chairman, said he is “very encouraged” by the progress made over the past year and still expects to sign up consortium partners by the middle of next year. This year Aerion has optimized the SSBJ design, begun to validate the natural laminar-flow wing via rocket sled tests, defined the aircraft’s systems and engaged the FAA about certification issues.
“The U.S. is still the only country in the world that bans supersonic flight over land,” Barents lamented. “The rest of the world bans only perceived sonic booms over land.” The company is exploring the potential of boomless flight at Mach 1.2 without any aircraft design changes, which would allow supersonic flight over land, except in the U.S. unless the FAA can be convinced to rewrite the ban on overland supersonic flight.
However, Aerion’s business case isn’t predicated on this regulatory change. Barents said the Aerion SSBJ program remains on track, with an official program launch expected by the end of 2007 and aircraft service entry in 2012.