Aerion SSBJ Now a Trijet with Bigger Cabin, More Range

 - May 20, 2014, 2:30 PM
Aerion’s supersonic business jet is now a three-engine model with a larger cabin and more range, reflecting feedback from a recent operators survey. The new Mach 1.6 aircraft's projected range is 4,750 nm, but Aerion is aiming for 5,300 nm. This is up from the original SSBJ’s projected 4,000-nm range. (Photo: Aerion Corp.)

Aerion announced today at EBACE that it is redesigning its proposed supersonic business jet (SSBJ) with a larger cabin and more range, reflecting feedback from a recent survey of potential operators. The new aircraft–dubbed AS2, for Aerion supersonic second design–has three as yet unspecified engines versus the two P&W JT8Ds intended for its now-scrubbed predecessor. The design retains a target supersonic cruise speed of Mach 1.6 and a supersonic natural laminar-flow wing, which Aerion calls “the key enabling technology behind practical and efficient supersonic and high-subsonic flight.”

Inside, the aircraft’s larger cabin has a cross-section dimension nearly identical to that of the Gulfstream G550–a height of 6 foot 2 inches and width of 7 feet 3 inches. The 30-foot-long cabin will feature a two-lounge layout, galley and both forward and aft lavatories, as well as a baggage compartment that is accessible in flight. Outside, the AS2’s fuselage is 160 feet long, some 25 feet longer than the originally conceived SSBJ, and wingspan is 70 feet.

Maximum takeoff weight is 115,000 pounds, up from the original aircraft’s 90,000 pounds. While the minimum projected range is 4,750 nm, Aerion is aiming for 5,300 nm. This is up from the original SSBJ’s projected 4,000-nm range.

Despite the configuration changes and despite the apparent continued absence of a long-sought OEM partner, Aerion anticipates that its now $100 million-plus supersonic business jet will still be certified in 2021. The company expects to fly a prototype in late 2018 or early 2019, launching a 24-month certification program.