Start-up Savion Aerospace is promoting the Savion, a two-person, remotely piloted, liquified natural gas-powered jet aimed at poaching business travelers from the airlines. The proposed Mach 0.50 jet was drafted by “inverse aircraft design,” said company president Jonathan Gibbs.
“Instead of designing it for a certain speed and distance, we designed it for a certain price point per hour,” a figure it has whittled to $350 per hour thanks to efficiencies including using liquid natural gas (LNG), which costs about a dollar per gallon, and keeping pilots on the ground.
It will be flown “just like an Air Force drone,” said Gibbs, under flight rules governing remotely piloted vehicles that technically make no prohibitions against putting passengers on board. An interactive monitor will keep those on board in constant contact with their pilot and/or other controllers.
As designed, the jet will have a stand-up cabin, lie-flat seats, lavatory, and a range of some 1,500 nm. Power will come from a certified jet engine from an undisclosed OEM that will be recertified for natural gas fuel.
Once market demand is confirmed, expected in the next three months, Gibbs believes the Savion can be built and certified within 48 months. In addition to accepting venture capital funding, the company will soon open preorder membership sales to prospective customers, which will give them equity in the company and access to the aircraft once in service.
With a projected cost of about $3 million each, Gibbs said Savion plans to build 100 to 300 aircraft annually.