Competitor SAI also moving forward with its SSBJ

 - October 9, 2006, 4:51 AM

Supersonic Aerospace International (SAI) of Las Vegas said it continues to work with Lockheed Martin on the Quiet Small Supersonic Transport (QSST), the circa-$80 million, 4,000-nm, 12-passenger, Mach 1.8, no-boom supersonic business jet (SSBJ) it announced at the NBAA Convention last year.

According to company president Michael Paulson–son of the late business aviation magnate Allen Paulson–the project is now in Phase 2, which mainly involves refining and optimizing the SSBJ’s design, sonic-boom mitigation and engine evaluation. As part of the design refinement, SAI said it has gained a 5-percent cabin volume increase, though it hasn’t yet decided what it will do with this newfound space.

According to Paulson, SAI is no longer considering building a 60-percent-scale demonstrator to prove the QSST’s design in Phase 2. He further said that his company will choose one of three competing engine designs from General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce for the supersonic twinjet when Phase 2 concludes late next year.

Phase 3, scheduled to start in early 2007, is the detailed design phase. A follow-on phase will entail building and, in mid-2011, flying a QSST prototype. Phase 5 is the flight-test phase, which will conclude with planned FAR Part 25 certification in 2013.

Meanwhile, SAI is lobbying for a change to FAR 91.817, which prohibits supersonic flight over land. The company is hoping to convince federal officials to change the regulation since its QSST will not have any “unacceptable” sonic boom.

SAI is also in discussions with several investors and risk-sharing partners. “We’re very excited about the aircraft design,” Paulson told AIN. “The project is moving along rapidly, and we expect to cut metal in five years and fly the QSST in six years. This airplane will revolutionize travel in the 21st century.”