Reno, Nev.-based Aerion is releasing results from recent flight tests of a natural laminar flow (NLF) wing test article this week here in Las Vegas, while the company continues to work to have its supersonic business jet enter service in 2020. The goal of these tests was to measure “real-world robustness” of supersonic NLF, which is a key technology for the Aerion SSBJ, in regards to surface quality and manufacturing tolerances.
Supersonic business jet
Aerion chief technology officer and director Dr. Richard Tracy told AIN today at EBACE that his company is “revisiting” the powerplant for its proposed $80 million supersonic business jet (SSBJ), citing the previously selected Pratt & Whitney JT8D-219’s inability to meet upcoming Stage 5 noise requirements.
Aerion, which has been defining and refining its design for a supersonic business jet (SSBJ) for the past 11 years, is here at EBACE (Booth 7030) still quietly confident that it will someday be able to add the word “producer” to its résumé. To that end, a NASA F-15 has been flying this spring from Dryden Flight Research Center in California with an 80- by 40-inch section of Aerion airfoil attached to its belly.
Aerion has started its next round of high-speed test flights, in conjunction with NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, to validate the laminar-flow wing for its supersonic business jet. These tests, using a test article mounted under the centerline of NASA’s F-15B research aircraft and flown at speeds up to Mach 2.0, are intended to measure the real-world robustness of supersonic natural laminar flow. Information from these tests will help define manufacturing standards for surface quality and assembly tolerances of the proposed SSBJ’s laminar-flow wing.
Aerion, which aims to develop a supersonic business jet, promoted Doug Nichols to CEO yesterday. Nichols, who was previously COO at the company, also joined Aerion’s board of directors. In his new capacity he is responsible for all corporate activities of Aerion, including its recently acquired Desktop Aeronautics aerospace software and consultancy subsidiary based in Palo Alto, Calif. “Doug’s promotion…will allow an increasingly vertically integrated Aerion to expand and monetize its portfolio of transonic and supersonic intellectual property,” said Robert M.
The supersonic business jet development program continues at Gulfstream Aerospace, but until the FAA decides to define “quiet” as it relates to the so-called sonic boom, “We just don’t see a business case,” said a spokesman.
In a series of patent filings last summer, Gulfstream emphasized mitigating the noise produced by the sonic boom, pointing out that regulations currently prohibit supersonic flight over populated areas.
HyperMach Aerospace announced a new configuration for its SonicStar supersonic business jet (SSBJ) that it claims will boost the aircraft’s top speed by about 12 percent to Mach 4.5, while increasing range by 500 nm, to 6,500 nm. At its planned high-Mach cruise speed of Mach 4.4 at FL620, the SonicStar would be able to fly from New York to Dubai in only two hours and eight minutes.
HyperMach Aerospace announced a new configuration for its SonicStar supersonic business jet that will boost the aircraft’s top speed by more than 10 percent, to Mach 4.5, while also increasing range to more than 6,500 nm.
Aerion has seen the business aircraft market change substantially since it announced development of a supersonic business jet (SSBJ) design at the 2004 NBAA convention, but the company remains bullish about market demand for such an aircraft, and its plans to bring its design to fruition. Ahead of NBAA ‘12, Aerion (Booth No.
Here we are in 2012, nearly 110 years since the Wright Brothers made the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air flight, and with some notable exceptions aircraft design over the years has become about as conservative and uninspired as a bowl of Jello.
- Page 1