Supersonic Bizjets Inch Closer To Reality

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Gulfstream, Supersonic Aerospace International and Aerion Corp. are all whittling away at their supersonic bizjet models as the market for such designs leaps closer to credibility. The Teal Group, through Vice President of Analysis Richard Aboulafia, believes that demand for supersonic travel is significant -- over 20 years of production, the Teal Group sees a market for up to 400 jets and Aerion aims to make its jet the first available offering. Aerion expects to spend time and $2.2 billion to land its jet in the market by 2014, citing a lack of available talent (a shortage of engineers) as a primary obstacle. The Aerion aircraft aims to be efficient both in subsonic and supersonic flight, catering to current (and unlikely to change) rules that prohibit supersonic flight above the continental U.S. Those countries that allow supersonic flight would be open to supersonic bizjets so long as the associated boom is imperceptible. The entire industry remains bullish on bizjet sales in general and with prices climbing toward $50 million, speed and time may make an $80 million supersonic bizjet appear more reasonable to those with that kind of money to spend. It's the promise of supersonic flight from New York to Paris in four hours and 15 minutes and coast-to-coast in less than four hours of subsonic flight, and a design that fills at least some of the void left when the Concorde was taken out of service in 2003.