As Aerion Supersonic targets the middle of the decade for first flight of its AS2 supersonic business jet and service entry by 2027, the company is taking a multi-decade view of its business plan with aspirations to build an AS3 that would dwarf the size of the business jet, move into hybrid and all-electric power, and eventually offer hypersonic aircraft. All the while, its Aerion Connect initiative would enable an ecosystem approach for the customer to reach the destination from door-to-door, rather than airport-to-airport.
Speaking during the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Aviation Forum this morning, Aerion Supersonic chairman, president, and CEO Tom Vice outlined this vision, saying, “We believe that we are building a future where humanity can travel between any two major city pairs within three hours. We know this is going to take a multi-decade approach [involving] hard technical challenges…It’s about building an entire ecosystem not just the airplane from point to point.”
Describing supersonic as Aerion’s “starting point,” Vice updated the efforts on the GE Affinity-powered Mach 1.4 AS2 business jet, saying it has “made significant progress” in the last two years. However, principal design review has been pushed into 2021 and first flight has slid on the $120 million, 12-place aircraft with plans to fly it from the company’s new complex that will be built in Melbourne, Florida, in 2025, with certification following within two years. “The pandemic has slowed us down a bit,” he said.
The company added in a statement that “In light of the impact of COVID-19 on our industry… we have taken proactive measures on reprioritizing workflow to maintain continuity on the AS2 program.” Even so, Vice indicated plans to step up engineering hiring later this year or early next in multiple disciplines.
Plans call for use of five flight-test aircraft for the program.
While now shorter, the recent redesign of the AS2 preserved cabin space, which he said will equate to that of a Bombardier Global 6500 or a Gulfstream G600, have the “quietest cabin in the industry and lowest cabin altitude,” and be equipped with amenities such as OLED surfaces, immersive high-fidelity sound with 4k/8k video, large dimmable windows, and “ultra-fast” connectivity. Courtesy of AIN.