Aerion Completes Supersonic Flight Test Series

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Aerion Corp. is continuing to work on the design of its supersonic business jet, the company said at NBAA's Annual Convention this week. A series of flight tests this summer using a NASA F-15B at speeds up to Mach 2.0 provided data that is now being incorporated into the design of a test article for the next flight series. "Future tests will evaluate supersonic boundary layer transition properties as they relate to manufacturing standards for surface quality and assembly tolerances," said Richard Tracy, the company's chief technology officer. "Both [are] crucial to future production of Aerion's supersonic business jet." Aerion worked with NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in July and August, completing five flights to collect data on static pressure for comparison with computer models.

Aerion plans to build a supersonic jet that can carry 8 to 12 passengers at speeds up to Mach 1.6 with a range of 4,000 nm and a ceiling of 51,000 feet. The jet, almost 150 feet long, would be powered by two Pratt & Whitney JT8D-219 engines. Targets include an approach speed of 120 knots and a minimum landing distance under 3,500 feet. The company said this week it has about 50 deposits for the $80 million airplane, and the order book has remained "relatively constant, despite recent economic volatility." The company is engaged in ongoing talks with possible manufacturing partners; aircraft deliveries would begin five to six years from the formation of a joint venture to cover development, production, certification, sales and support of the jet.