Aerion now has commitments covering at least 20 of its proposed supersonic business jet (SSBJ) since it started signing letters of intent with prospective customers in November. The letters of intent come from 20 different clients in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North America; operators committing to the program most recently include Pakistan-based executive charter firm Princely Jets and an undisclosed customer from India.
The void in the aeronautical spectrum created by the retirement of the Anglo-French Concorde fleet in October last year stands to be filled by two supersonic business jet (SSBJ) programs that were unveiled at last month’s NBAA Convention.
British and French authorities were expected to issue ADs for the grounded Concorde supersonic jetliners on August 28, some 13 months after the July 25 fatal crash of one of the SSTs. Subject to final modification work being completed (see story on page 58), British Airways could resume Concorde commercial flights to New York later this month, with Air France expected to follow suit next month.
After a flurry of interest late in the last decade that appeared to lose momentum in the wake of 9/11, there is evidence that progress toward defining a supersonic business jet continues quietly.
The good news is that a supersonic business jet (SSBJ) is almost inevitable. The not so good news is that it is probably at least a decade away. And securing the funding for research may be as problematic as the noise from any sonic boom.
Three companies have expressed serious interest in developing a supersonic business jet (SSBJ), but none of the designs proposed by Aerion, Sukhoi or Supersonic Aerospace International has reached the launch stage, making it unlikely that any will emerge as a flying prototype anytime soon.
As part of its unveiling of the 787, Boeing coordinated a 7-series family photo. Right to left: Omega Air 707, AirTran 717, FedEx 727, Alaska 737-800, Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 testbed 747, Continental 757, Delta 767 and Air France 777-300ER. In the background at left is a 747-400 Dreamlifter, used for bringing in 787 subassemblies, and Seattle’s The Museum of Flight’s 747 prototype and Concorde can be seen to the right.
SSBJ UPDATE: Elsewhere in this issue (“In The Works,” page 78) is word of Sukhoi’s continuing work on feasibility studies on the S-21, a supersonic business jet that, according to the company’s general director of civil aircraft, could not appear before 2010 or 2012.
Gulfstream Aerospace hosted a NASA F-15 in Savannah, Ga., on February 14 for an aerial demonstration of its Quite Spike telescopic nose spike installation. If Gulfstream were ever to decide to launch a supersonic business jet, it would have to employ some means of suppressing the sonic boom while flying over land.
The year 2003–the centennial of manned, powered flight–was supposed to be the one where aviation shone brightly. Instead, the entire aviation industry was a bit under the weather, riding out a turbulent market marred by a sour economy and the long-lasting after-effects of 9/11.