Still Seeking Partner, Aerion Racks Up Orders for SSBJ

 - May 21, 2008, 7:45 AM

Reno, Nev.-based Aerion is still hoping to convince an OEM partner to join it by the end of this year in its quest to build a supersonic business jet capable of sprinting from New York to London in just four hours. In the six months since the company began accepting orders for the Mach 1.6, $80 million twinjet, 40 would-be buyers have signed letters of intent backed by refundable deposits of $250,000. The question for Aerion now centers on whether the early interest in the airplane will be enough to persuade a major OEM to commit the billions of dollars needed for certification. Aerion’s goal is to secure a partner in the coming months and certify the airplane in 2014. Aerion vice chairman Brian Barents points to the number of orders received for the $59.5 million Gulfstream G650 as evidence that there is demand for an $80 million supersonic jet. The majority of the Aerion orders so far have come from individuals, as well as a few corporations, he said.