Since our last report, 18 months ago, the American company Aerion project has accelerated. Dubbed, the AS2, their future supersonic business jet has just received its first firm order for 20 units from the Texas-based business aviation company, Flexjet, for an undisclosed amount.
The triple-engined plane will be capable of flying at 49,000 feet (15,000 metres) above sea level, at a maximum speed of 1,100 mph (1,800 km/h) - slightly less than the Concorde - but, according to the constructor’s data, still knock two and a half hours off today’s conventional flight time from London to New York.
With the support of the Airbus group, who have been working on the fuselage, avionics and landing gear, since 2014, the supersonic tri-jet is taking shape. Aerion is now in the process of selecting aeronautical equipment manufacturers and suppliers.
The layout of the business jet’s 30-foot (9 metres) long cabin, capable of accommodating from 8 to 12 passengers, was entrusted to the German-Austrian company Inairvation, who have also just built a full-size mockup to study the various possible configurations.
Nomination of the engine manufacturer, essential for the project to succeed, must be done before next summer. The major challenges are fuel consumption and noise.
The location of the aircraft’s assembly site, is also still under consideration, since it will necessitate being built within a 250 mile (400 kilometres) supersonic flight zone, in order to facilitate the test flights, that could begin as early as 2021 for entry into service two years later.