Economical, practical, environmentally friendly supersonic flight is the next big thing in commercial aviation. Or is it? From where aeronautical technology stands today, practical supersonic flight (and by “practical,” we do not mean the Anglo-French Concorde, which generates noise and atmospheric pollution levels that preclude all but the smallest volumes of operation) is far off.
Supersonic business jet
Although it has yet to find an aircraft manufacturer willing to help design and build the world’s first supersonic business jet, Aerion has built an order backlog of more than $3 billion. The backlog reflects letters of intent backed by $250,000 refundable deposits for 38 of the $80 million supersonic business jets. Aero Toy Store, the Aerion distributor for the Americas and Caribbean, has logged 12 of those letters of intent.
Aero Toy Store has been appointed the factory authorized representative of Aerion for the sale of the company’s supersonic business jet. The agreement allows the initial sale of 12 of the new jets, which will cruise at speeds up to Mach 1.6 at altitudes of up to 51,000 feet. It has a range of 4,000 nm.
Officials at Sukhoi have revealed next to nothing about the company’s proposed supersonic business jet program over the last 12 months. However, during a joint U.S./Russian roundtable discussion on aviation issues in May, Sukhoi general director Mikhail Pogosyan, one of the speakers, said “certain progress” had been achieved during a joint feasibility study with Boeing, not only on the Russian Regional Jet, but also on the SSBJ.
The prospect of designing a supersonic business jet that meets market requirements and environmental noise constraints at a price that will attract buyers remains compelling, and research continues. The Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recently signed an agreement to research SSBJ sonic boom mitigation with Rolls-Royce Deutschland and Gulfstream Aerospace.
Aerion and international sales distributor ExecuJet Aviation Group last month at the Singapore Airshow secured letters of intent for three more Aerion supersonic business jets from the first customers from India. This takes the total pledged LOIs for the SSBJ to $2 billion, based on the SSBJ’s $80 million price tag.
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.
In an exclusive interview with AIN, Aerion vice chairman Brian Barents discussed why he believes it’s time to bring a supersonic business jet to market. “People have approached the subject over a number of years, trying to marry technology with a guaranteed return on investment, without success,” he said.
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.
Aerion announced in London today that it has received commitments covering at least 20 of its proposed $80 million supersonic business jets (SSBJ) since it started signing letters of intent with prospective customers last month.