Airbus, Aerion Upbeat On Supersonic Jet Progress

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Airbus is ramping up its investment in the Aerion AS2 supersonic-jet program, the two companies announced at the NBAA convention in Las Vegas this week, and Aerion CEO Doug Nichols said he expects a first flight for the aircraft in 2021. "We are targeting the first half of 2016 to select a propulsion system, which will enable us to formally launch the program shortly thereafter," Nichols said. He added that he expects the airplane to achieve certification from FAA and EASA and enter service in 2023. The company now is searching for a U.S. location to build a manufacturing facility. Airbus CEO Allan McArtor said his company's collaboration with Aerion has been "extremely beneficial and productive." 

McArtor said, "The further we proceed along the development path with Aerion, the greater our enthusiasm for this program and the deeper our commitment. Under our new agreement, our two companies are working as one to bring Aerion's supersonic AS2 to the business-jet market." In the year they have worked together, Airbus said they have made "significant progress" in the engineering of airframe structures, the AS2's fly-by-wire flight-control system, its integrated fuel system and landing gear. Aerion has taken the lead on systems such as avionics, electrical, environmental control, hydraulics and auxiliary power. Candidate suppliers have been identified and the supplier selection process has begun. A recent quarterly review of the program delivered "excellent" results, said Ken McKenzie, a senior vice president at Airbus. "We see clear and achievable technical solutions to the design of a supersonic jet, and a realistic road map for helping Aerion proceed toward construction and flight," he said. The jet will have a maximum speed of 1.5 Mach and a range of up to 5,300 nm, and will sell for $120 million, the company says.