Fractional-share provider Flexjet signed a firm order today at NBAA 2015 for 20 Aerion AS2 supersonic business jets for delivery beginning in 2023. The deal, worth $2.4 billion (2015 $) at list prices, is backed by a nonrefundable deposit.
Aerion chairman Robert Bass declined to say how many total orders or letters of intent the company possessed or how many it would need to put the AS2 into production. “When an organization like Flexjet makes a decision, it is after much thought and study,” he said. “And we are very pleased they have selected the Aerion AS2.”
Bass also declined to say if Airbus had invested in the company. Last year Aerion and Airbus announced a technology-sharing agreement. Bass did say that, under the terms of that agreement, Airbus could manufacture components of the AS2.
“Being on the leading edge of something that is supersonic is a very exciting thing to do,” said Flexjet CEO Kenn Ricci. “We have a lot of confidence in Bob [Bass] and his team to bring this project to market. We are going into the international market; that was one of our goals when we bought Flexjet two years ago. As we go into that market we realize that there is not a ‘one size that fits all’ for our clients.”
Ricci said Flexjet has programs where customers can buy access to larger and more capable aircraft on a selected basis, and that is where he sees a supersonic business jet fitting the bill for his company and its customers, being able to access a supersonic business jet when speed matters.
“We did run this by our clients and we were amazed by the interest we had from very large corporate customers,” Ricci said, adding that before this consultation Flexjet had only intended to order 10 AS2s.