If paper was aluminum, glass and titanium instead of just paper, two Nevada-based groups developing supersonic business jet designs would have revolutionary aircraft ready to fly. To date, though, the specifications publicized by Aerion in Reno (Booth No.
High-speed aircraft (Hisac), a European research project to study the feasibility of a supersonic business jet (SSBJ), is coming to a close at the end of this year, having shown better understanding of the achievable performance but without an answer to the big question mark on engines. Dassault has led the program, which counts Italy’s Alenia Aeronautica and Russia’s Sukhoi among its other major stakeholders.
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.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has exceeded Mach 1 for the first time–a timely achievement after a recent Rand study suggested that the design lacked maneuverability for air-to-air combat. Lockheed Martin said that the Lightning II accelerated to Mach 1.05 with a full internal load of inert weapons–5,400 pounds–on November 13. The design top speed is Mach 1.6. The Rand study on Air Combat discussed the potential performance of U.S.
Aerion, the U.S. company that is developing a supersonic business jet (SSBJ), has welcomed an FAA policy shift which it believes “seems to crack open the door for supersonic cruise speeds” if, in the words of FAA policy guidance released last month, “the noise impacts of supersonic flight are shown to be acceptable.”
Aerion executives still hope they will secure an OEM partner by the end of the year to build the company’s supersonic business jet, but vice chairman Brian Barents told NBAA Convention News that the company won’t “fall off a cliff” if the deadline passes without an announcement.
“Everybody talks about the weather,” Mark Twain once famously quipped, “but nobody ever does anything about it.”
Reno, Nev.-based Aerion on Sunday announced at the Dubai Air Show that it is now accepting letters of intent for a “limited number” of early delivery positions for its 12-seat supersonic business jet (SSBJ). “Market demand has driven our decision to begin accepting deposits,” said company vice chairman Brian Barents.
Business aircraft crews are being urged to ensure they are using true Mach numbers in all airspace where the Mach number technique (MNT) is applied for longitudinal separation. According to a bulletin from the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), some pilots are unaware that their displays show uncorrected Mach numbers and will not therefore be conveying their true Mach speed to air traffic controllers.
SSBJ UPDATE: Elsewhere in this issue (“In The Works,” page 78) is word of Sukhoi’s continuing work on feasibility studies on the S-21, a supersonic business jet that, according to the company’s general director of civil aircraft, could not appear before 2010 or 2012.