Reno, Nevada-based Aerion Corp. is on track to fly the world's first supersonic business jet (SSBJ), the Aerion AS2, by 2023, with certification expected to follow by 2025, company senior v-p and chief commercial officer Ernie Edwards told attendees yesterday at the Corporate Jet Investor Dubai conference. “Five years [from now] and [then a further] two years is a pretty aggressive [time frame],” he said, confirming the previously stated plans for the SSBJ program.
Aerion is planning to use an existing GE Aviation engine for the aircraft, which would benefit from the agreement signed with Lockheed Martin in December to develop the aircraft. “We have been searching for an engine for [a number of] years,” Edwards said. “The challenge about the engine is longevity. We want frugality of fuel burn at altitude.”
The aircraft could fly at about Mach 1.5 over water at “super cruise,” while over land the aircraft could still achieve a speed of nearly Mach 1.2 without a sonic boom reaching the ground, he said.
“We think that, as the market leader, we will be first to market,” Edwards said of an increasing likelihood of a competitor entry coming to market. “The FAA realizes that supersonic flight is coming to our world.”
Edwards said he had flown overnight direct from Miami to attend the Dubai event, and that use of an aircraft like the AS2 would have saved him four hours' flying time, the kind of benefit many busy executives would welcome, he noted.