|Role||Supersonic business jet|
|National origin||United States|
|Program cost||$4 billion|
|Developed from||Aerion SBJ|
The Aerion AS2 is a supersonic business jet under development by Aerion Corporation. It was announced in May 2014 as a larger Aerion SBJ redesign, targeting introduction after a seven years development. Aerion partnered with Airbus in September. In December 2017, Airbus was replaced by Lockheed Martin. Its General Electric Affinity engine was unveiled in October 2018. In February 2019, Boeing replaced Lockheed Martin. The 12-passenger aircraft aims for Mach 1.6 with a supersonic natural laminar flow wing for a minimum projected range of 4,750 nm (8,800 km). A $4 billion development cost is anticipated, for a market for 300 over 10 years and 500 overall for $120 million each.
By May 2014, Aerion had invested over $100 million for technology development. The company announced at the May 2014 EBACE that it is redesigning its previous Aerion SBJ with a larger cabin, more range and three yet unspecified engines for a $100 million-plus target price, and that it aims to fly a prototype in late 2018 / early 2019 and certify the plane in 2021. Aerion intends to finance $3 billion of development, reducing risk for industry partners.
In September 2014, Aerion partnered with Airbus. Airbus Defence have supersonic expertise and resources available. The unit cost was predicted to be US$120 million at the May 2015 EBACE. In 2015 it was scheduled to enter service in 2023. In May 2017, Aerion was hoping to launch it in early 2018.
In December 2017, Aerion and Lockheed Martin announced they would explore its joint development without Airbus, aiming to fly in 2023 and to be certificated in 2025. On December 15, after discussions with Lockheed's Skunk Works, they announced a MoU to explore over a year the joint development of the supersonic business jet: engineering, certification and production. Lockheed developed supersonic aircraft like the F-16, the F-35, F-22 and the Mach 3+ SR-71, and concluded the AS2 concept warrants time and resources investment after reviewing Aerion's aerodynamic technology. Through a previous two-and-a-half-year engineering collaboration with Airbus, Aerion advanced the AS2 aerodynamics and designed a preliminary wing and airframe structures, systems layout and fly-by-wire control system concept. Between May and December 2017, the GE collaboration resulted in moving the engines to the wing leading edge from its trailing edge, it features a T-tail and a higher wing aspect ratio.
Aerion said it is spending $1 billion for the AS2. Hoping to sell 30 per year for $3.6 billion over 20 years, Aerion and Lockheed want to freeze its engines, wings and fuselage configuration in the Summer of 2018. With a 2018 launch, preliminary design would be reviewed by mid-2020 before detailed design for a critical design review in early 2022. First flight would be targeted in mid-2023 for a New York to London transatlantic flight in October, at the 20th anniversary of the retirement of the Concorde. Certification is aimed for late 2025 and entry-into-service in early 2026. Production will ramp up from 12 in 2026 to 23 in 2027 and should stabilize at 36 per year from 2028, although it could increase up to four per month.
In October 2018, Aerion announced the selection of the Honeywell Primus Epic avionics. The company is financed by Robert Bass and anticipates a $4 billion development costs. Aerion forecasts a market for 300 AS2s over 10 years and 500 overall for $120 million each. A faster (Mach 1.6), larger-cabin, longer-range successor could follow as a business jet and small airliner, while new engines would be needed above Mach 1.8.
Lockheed's contract expired on February 1, 2019. On February 5, Boeing announced its investment in Aerion, and will provide engineering, manufacturing and flight test resources to introduce the AS2, maintaining a 2023 first flight. Billionaire backer Robert Bass left Aerion's board of directors, and Tom Vice replaced him as chairman after being promoted to president, CEO and board member in August. Boeing gained two seats on Aerion's five-person board while the amount of its investment was undisclosed.
Though initially designed with a modified Pratt & Whitney JT8D, the General Electric Affinity was selected in May 2017 to power the AS2; its initial design was completed in 2018 before its detailed design in 2020 for the first prototype production. Its high-pressure core is derived from the CFM56, matched to a new twin fan low-pressure section for a reduced bypass ratio better suited to supersonic flight. General Electric's intentions on the project were confirmed at the 2018 National Business Aviation Association's annual conference.
It aims for Mach 1.6 with a supersonic natural laminar flow wing and a projected maximum takeoff weight of 52,200 kg (115,000 lb) for a minimum projected range of 4,750 nm (8,800 km) The wing should reduce aerodynamic drag by 20% and the cabin should seat up to 12 passengers. NASA has issued a contract to model supersonic boom on ground. New noise regulations coming in 2020 caused Aerion to change the design from two to three engines.
Noise regulations will limit it at 54,400 kg (120,000 lb) which will limit range. The AS2 will not incorporate the technology from the Low Boom Flight Demonstrator built by Lockheed's Skunk Works as it would have to be included from the start, but a following AS3 may.
In November 2015, Flexjet confirmed that they had placed a firm order valued at $2.4 billion for twenty Aerion AS2s, with delivery to begin in 2023. Flexjet CEO Kenn Ricci said the company would use the supersonic jet for overseas flights and also in China, which does not have restrictions on sonic booms. Ricci noted that, with the aircraft traveling at Mach 1.2, its boom would not reach the ground, possibly allowing regulators to permit supersonic flight over land. Flexjet, owned by Directional Aviation Capital, offers customers fractional ownership of aircraft, rather than outright purchase.
Data from Aerion
- Crew: 2
- Capacity: 8–11 passengers
- Length: 170 ft (52 m)
- Wingspan: 77 ft (23 m)
- Height: 22 ft (6.7 m)
- Wing area: 1,511 sq ft (140.4 m2)
- Max takeoff weight: 133,000 lb (60,328 kg)
- Fuel capacity: 59,084 lbs / 26,800 kg
- Interior: 30 feet long, 6'2" high, 7'6" wide (9.1 × 1.9 × 2.2 m)
- Powerplant: 3 × General Electric Affinity turbofan, 18,000 lbf (80 kN) thrust each
- Cruise speed: 803 kn (924 mph, 1,487 km/h) Mach 1.4, subsonic: Mach 0.95, boomless: Mach 1.1–1.2
- Range: 4,200 nmi (4,800 mi, 7,800 km) at Mach 1.4, 5,400 nm / 10,000 km at Mach 0.95
- Balanced field length at ISA, SL: 7,500ft / 2,286m
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Boom Technology Overture
- HyperMach SonicStar
- SAI Quiet Supersonic Transport
- Spike S-512
- Sukhoi-Gulfstream S-21
- Tupolev Tu-444
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