Middle East Interest Strong In Aerion Supersonic BizJet

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Aerion, which aims to deliver the first supersonic business jet, has been delayed in that goal by the state of the economy, but presently claims 50 letters of intent that represent an order backlog of $4 billion -- nearly 25% of which comes from customers in the Middle East, Pakistan and India. The U.S. restricts overland flight speeds to below Mach 1 for aircraft like the Aerion, but other countries do not have the same restrictions. The company is still in discussions with potential partners and says interest in the program "has not lessened" and it is "encouraged by our discussions." Aerion expects to be the first company to bring a supersonic business jet to market with what it expects to be its own $80 million offering. Still, Aerion says it will be another nine to 12 months before a technical assessment phase that will look at everything from the jet's aerodynamic design to plans until successful certification is complete. The target is to reintroduce supersonic commercial flight by the middle of the next decade.

The jet will have fuel consumption that is "far below any other proposed supersonic jet," according to Aerion, thanks in large part to its key enabling technology, supersonic natural laminar flow. Aerion formed in 2002 to reintroduce supersonic flight to the commercial segment and currently expects a five-year development and certification program to culminate in deliveries well before the end of the next decade.