Airbus and Boeing supplier Spirit AeroSystems will collaborate with Aerion Corp. on the preliminary design of the forward pressurized fuselage of the AS2 supersonic jet, the companies announced today. Wichita-based Spirit—which manufactures the forward fuselage of all in-production Boeing jetliners, including the composite 787 Dreamliner—said it expects to immediately begin preliminary development.
“Joining a project team this early allows us to apply our technical expertise and commercial best practices to make the most positive impact,” Spirit president and CEO Tom Gentile said. “We can create cost-efficient, innovative engineering solutions that take into account Spirit’s highly efficient manufacturing processes.”
Aerion’s 12-passenger, Mach 1.4 trijet program has seen an uptick in development announcements in recent months, including the Reno, Nevada-based company’s selection of GE Aviation’s new Affinity engine as the airplane’s powerplant at NBAA 2018 in October, followed by the February 5 announcement of its partnership with Boeing, including a “significant” investment in the program by the Seattle airframer. Aerion expects to begin flight testing the AS2 in 2023.
“They are a leader in composite structures and we are excited that they have joined the team,” Aerion CEO Tom Vice said of the Spirit partnership.
Spirit’s experience in composite fuselages extends beyond the 787 to include manufacture of those for Lockheed Martin Sikorsky’s CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter and Bell’s V-280 tiltrotor for the Army’s Future Vertical Lift program.