Aerion Supersonic wrapped up low- and high-speed wind tunnel testing for its redesigned Mach 1.4 AS2 business jet, accumulating the equivalent of 78,000 nm flown and hundreds of simulated flight hours at facilities in Europe and North America. The testing, along with digital modeling, enabled Aerion engineers to assess more than 200,000 data points to validate the aerodynamic shape of the aircraft and keep the program on target for component manufacturing to begin in 2022 and AS2 assembly in 2023.
The tests involved an evaluation of the full operational envelope of the AS2, including takeoff and landing, subsonic cruise, "boomless" supersonic cruise, and dive speed. In addition, the AS2 design was tested for operational conditions, including the deployment of landing gear and wing icing, along with handling qualities.
Aerion worked in conjunction with the French Office of National Aerospace Research in Modane, France, on the high-speed testing. This testing assessed stability and control at transonic and supersonic speeds over more than 1,000 cycles and the equivalent of 72,000 nm flown.
In combination with the wind tunnel testing, Aerion has conducted digital modeling through the use of aerodynamic optimization tools developed by its subsidiary, Aerion Technologies, in Palo Alto, California.
Calling the digital modeling and wind tunnel testing complementary, Aerion director of system test and evaluation Robert "Bob" Lewis said, “This testing is an important validation step in the development of the AS2, allowing us to collect a high volume of data in a short time through the full operational envelope of the aircraft to ensure our design exceeds performance expectations.”
According to Aerion, this combination eliminates a need for a demonstrator aircraft and accelerates the final stage of validation. “The conclusion of this phase of the development program is a major milestone for Aerion and the AS2,” explained Aerion chairman, president, and CEO Tom Vice. “In 2023, when we start manufacturing at Aerion Park [in Melbourne, Florida], the first AS2 we build will be a production-specification aircraft. This key phase of testing validates our aerodynamic assumptions and tells us that the AS2 will achieve all of our performance expectations and, in doing so, takes us a significant step closer to first flight.”
Plans call for Aerion to fly the aircraft in the 2025 timeframe, with certification and entry-into-service later in the decade.