Boeing, Aerion partner to deliver new supersonic jets

Aircraft manufacturer, Boeing

Aircraft manufacturer, Boeing, has made a significant investment in a supersonic business jet start-up that hopes to slash trans-Atlantic journey times by three hours.

The world’s largest aerospace company announced it would be partnering with Aerion Supersonic as it looks to tap into rising demand for high-end aircraft that can reduce travel times.

Boeing will provide engineering, manufacturing and flight testing services for Aerion’s N43.2 billion ($120 million) supersonic business jet, which is slated for its first flight in 2023.

The jet, the Aerion AS2, can fly at speeds of up to Mach 1.4, or about 1,000mph (1,610kph), 70 per cent faster than conventional business jets.

Aerion introduced its AS2 12-passenger business jet design in 2014 and unveiled the AS2’s GE Affinity engine design in 2018.

Both Boeing and Aerion, which is based in Reno, Nevada, and founded by billionaire businessman Robert Bass, did not disclose the financial terms of the deal.

Steve Nordlund, vice president and general manager of Boeing NeXt, said: “Boeing is leading a mobility transformation that will safely and efficiently connect the world faster than ever before.

“This is a strategic and disciplined leading-edge investment in further maturing supersonic technology.

“Through this partnership that combines Aerion’s supersonic expertise with Boeing’s global industrial scale and commercial aviation experience, we have the right team to build the future of sustainable supersonic flight.”

While Tom Vice, chairman, president and chief executive officer, of Aerion added: “Aerion is the industry leader mapping out a successful, sustainable return to supersonic flight.

“The AS2 is the launch point for the future of regulatory-compliant and efficient supersonic flight. Together with Boeing, we’re creating a faster, more connected future with tremendous possibilities for enhancing humanity’s productivity and potential.”

Lockheed Martin Corp, which announced a partnership in 2017 to develop the AS2, is no longer working with Aerion, representatives from both companies said.

A spokeswoman for the maker of the F-35 and F-22 fighter jets told Reuters that “Lockheed Martin´s contract with Aerion to vet the technical viability of the AS2 design expired Friday, February 1, and there are no plans to renew”.

U.S. startups Aerion, Boom Supersonic and Spike Aerospace are working to reintroduce supersonic passenger travel.

Supersonic designs have struggled to meet current subsonic noise standards due to engine constraints, but Aerion said in October it would be able to take off and land without regulatory changes in the United States, providing a potential boost to efforts to bring back faster air travel.

General Electric Co’s GE Aviation unit has said it completed initial designs for the new Affinity turbofan engine, which will be used in Aerion’s AS2 jet, while Honeywell Aerospace has said it would develop the cockpit for the AS2.

Concorde, the last supersonic passenger jet, entered service in 1976 and continued flying for 27 years. It is one of only two supersonic transports to have been operated commercially.

It had a maximum speed of twice the speed of sound at Mach 2.04 (1,354mph or 2,180kph at cruise altitude) and could seat 92 to 128 passengers.

Concorde was jointly developed and manufactured by Aérospatiale and the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) under an Anglo-French treaty.

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