EBACE Convention News

Aerion proceeding with SSBJ research and OEM talks

 - May 12, 2009, 2:13 AM

Aerion is proceeding with research in the development of its supersonic business jet while it continues discussions with potential manufacturing partners that would lead to a joint Aerion-OEM design study. Aerion’s hope is that this design study, essentially the nine- to 12-month proof-of-concept phase of the program, would result in a decision by the partners to proceed with full-scale development and production of the Aerion SSBJ. According to a spokesman, the company does not plan to make an announcement about a partnering agreement here at EBACE.

“We are confident we will reach an agreement with an OEM,” said Aerion vice chairman Brian Barents. “The challenges are many, but there is a desire on the part of all parties to make this happen.”

Meanwhile, Aerion plans to conduct a series of flight and wind-tunnel tests this year. Previous tests, including those using a NASA F-15B flight-test platform and others in the European Transonic Wind Tunnel, have demonstrated the viability of supersonic natural laminar flow for the Aerion application.

The Aerion test program this year has two purposes: to set baseline configuration details (refining the shape of strakes, flaps, elevators, rudder and engine integration); and to assess the effects of wing-surface quality as a step toward setting production standards.

“Test results continue to validate computer modeling conducted over many years to refine the supersonic laminar flow concept,” said Aerion chief technology officer Richard Tracy. “These positive results confirm our confidence in our cutting-edge analytical tools, and the Aerion design concept. The reintroduction of civil supersonic flight is a big task, but it is now well within our technological understanding and capability.”

Separately, Aerion is providing input on supersonic flight to government agencies and forums, as regulators consider how to treat the next generation of supersonic aircraft. For the next open meeting of the FAA’s Office of Aviation Policy, Planning and Environment–the branch of the FAA focusing on new noise standards for supersonic aircraft–the agency has asked Aerion to present more information on Mach cutoff, a means of cruising at low supersonic speeds without creating an audible disturbance. The FAA is interested in the physics of the technology and how onboard systems would collect atmospheric data and adjust speed allowing for cruise up to about Mach 1.2 without producing a boom on the ground.

In April, Aerion’s business and testing manager, Jason Matisheck, participated in a Paris meeting of ICAO’s Working Group 1, which establishes noise and noise-testing criteria. Working Group 1 has formed a supersonic technical group to look into establishing criteria for supersonic aircraft. This subcommittee is examining sonic-boom shaping for noise reduction and the effects of boom pressure waves on structures such as commerical buildings and homes.

Aerion (Booth No. 270) is also participating in HISAC, a European Commission-funded consortium led by Dassault that is studying the technical requirements and feasibility of business-jet-sized supersonic aircraft with reduced sonic-boom signatures, low airport noise and low emissions. Though not a formal partner of HISAC, Aerion has been asked to brief the group on the Aerion airplane.