Speed Sells, But Who’s Buying?

 - December 19, 2007, 6:34 AM

In an exclusive interview with AIN, Aerion vice chairman Brian Barents discussed why he believes it’s time to bring a supersonic business jet to market. “People have approached the subject over a number of years, trying to marry technology with a guaranteed return on investment, without success,” he said.

“A few years ago, no one ever imagined anyone paying $50 million for a business jet. But with the ultra-long-range jets and bizliners, they now do.

“And it has been documented that people are willing to pay for speed–the $20 million Citation X and $12 million Sovereign are perfect examples. While these two aircraft have essentially the same cabin, they have an $8 million price difference. For 30 percent more speed in the Citation X, customers are willing to pay a 40- to 50-percent premium.

“Then there’s the advent of the fractional programs. This market segment, which will likely be the largest customer for the SSBJ, further builds the business case for an SSBJ.

“We’re now involved in market research to determine just how big the market will be for an SSBJ. Previous studies have shown a market for 250 to 300 SSBJs over a 10-year span. However, these studies didn’t include military, government or head-of-state operators, nor did they address any SSBJ derivatives. We believe the market is there, and we plan on being the first to market.”