Fourteen years have passed since British Airways and Air France retired their 13 Concordes, and for the first time in the history of human flight, air travelers have had to settle for flying more slowly than they used to. But now, more so than at any time since Concorde’s thunderous Olympus afterburning turbojets fell silent, there are multiple indications of a supersonic revival, and the activity appears to be more advanced in the field of business jets than in the airliner sector.
Aerion continues to be the most enduring player, and the company’s AS2 design now has three engines (originally two), the involvement of Airbus and an agreement (loose and non-exclusive, but signed) with GE Aviation to explore the supply of those engines. Spike Aerospace expects to fly a subsonic scale model of the design for the S-512 Mach 1.5 business jet this summer, to explore low-speed handling, followed by a manned two-thirds-scale supersonic demonstrator “one-and-a-half to two years from now.” Boom Technology is working on a 55-seat Mach 2.2 airliner that it plans also to offer as a private SSBJ. NASA and Lockheed Martin are encouraged by their research into reducing the severity of sonic booms on the surface of the planet.