AROUND THE beginning of this century, the possibility of the corporate aviation world seeing a supersonic jet enter the arena was more than just a dream for that intent of bringing such an aircraft to fruition, but a large dose of scepticism for the majority of people in the aviation world, and particularly for the man-in-the-street. But there was, in fact, a design already on the drawing boards, for a Supersonic Business Jet (SSBJ) called the Aerion.
Today that dream is just a scant few years from reaching fruition and although it is still some years before the world will witness what is now called the Aerion AS2, enter service, orders have started flowing in with the realisation that first flight is only a matter of three or four years away.
As we reported in the February edition of World Airnews (see Page 17), two leaders in supersonic technology, Aerion and Lockheed Martin, recently joined forces following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to define and form a gated process to explore the feasibility of a joint development of the first supersonic business jet, now known as the Aerion AS2.
During the past two and a half years, the Aerion company has advanced the aeronautical and structural design of the Aerion AS2 through a previous collaboration agreement with Airbus. During this period, the aircraft was designed to incorporate three engines (one buried in the fuselage under the tail and the others mounted on each side of the rear fuselage). Also during that period, the two companies developed a preliminary design of wing and airframe structures, systems layout and preliminary concepts for a fly-by-wire flight control system.
The 12-passenger aircraft is expected to fly at a speed of Mach 1,2 without a sonic boom reaching the ground. Aerion expects the maiden flight in 2020 and certification in 2025. So in a nutshell, the future of business supersonic flight is a scant seven years away.
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