EBACE Orders Buoy Aerion

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Aerion says it took $1 billion in orders for its supersonic business jet at the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) last month in Geneva. Since the aircraft sells for about $80 million, that means the company took $250,000 refundable deposits for at least a dozen of the Mach 1.6 aircraft and the total order book stands at more than 50, or about $4 billion. "There is no question at this point that a strong market for this aircraft exists," Vice Chairman Brian Barents said in a news release.

Aerion began taking orders late last year and is in the research and development phase. The concept is built around a "natural laminar flow" wing the company predicts will allow supersonic operation (up to Mach 1.2) without an audible "boom" reaching the ground. The U.S. currently bans supersonic operation by civilian aircraft in its airspace. Barents said the interest and the work done by Dr. Richard Tracy, who pioneered the supersonic natural laminar wing concept and is now Aerion's chief technology officer, bodes well for the future of the aircraft. "It gives us a great deal of confidence that by the middle of next decade business leaders will be flying supersonically, and they will be doing so in the Aerion jet," Barents said.