We Say It’s Coming Faster Than You Think

Your time is precious. So, why should you waste it traveling at subsonic speeds? At least that’s what we think at Aerion Supersonic. Committed to spurring true innovation in air travel, we are introducing the AS2 supersonic business jet (SBJ), the first civil supersonic aircraft to take to the skies since the Concorde’s final flight 17 years ago.

Although the AS2 will transport passengers between cities at more than 1,000 mph, we know that just being the fastest form of available travel is no longer enough. The discerning traveler also wants to reach their destination with minimal impact on the environment and the quality of life of those around them. Luckily, the AS2 is as environmentally conscious as it is fast.

As our culture becomes ever greener, travelers are thinking more and more about environmentally friendly transportation. But for many jets in the marketplace, this simply isn’t an option. The result is widespread mockery of environmentalism, evidenced by the Davos climate summit, the world’s largest gathering of private planes with more than 1,500 aircraft in attendance.

Is this the best we can do? Aerion isn’t so sure. Instead, we believe consumers needn’t have to choose between speed and luxury or being environmentally conscious. To this end, we are delivering on all three concerns in the form of the AS2, an SBJ disrupting the status quo.

And yet, the first thing many people think of when someone mentions supersonic flight is the sonic boom. The U.S. government tested Americans’ tolerance for sonic booms in Oklahoma City in the 1960s. Although many agreed they could live with the noise, the trials wreaked so much damage and bad PR they ultimately scuttled a generation’s worth of research into supersonic travel.

Without a doubt, sonic booms leave an indelible impact on the environment and the people on the ground. This is due not only to potential damage from the boom itself, but also via noise pollution. The AS2, on the other hand, completely sidesteps this problem with Aerion’s “Boomless Cruise” technology, designed to enable the plane to reach supersonic speeds without those on the ground paying the price. When utilizing the Boomless Cruise capability, the AS2 will exceed the speed of sound without a sonic boom striking the ground.

Accordingly, Aerion designed the AS2 to be the most environmentally friendly SBJ in the world. And yet an airplane can only be as friendly to the planet as its engines. This is why the AS2’s “green speed” is driven by the GE Affinity supersonic engine. The AS2 achieves breathtaking acceleration without the use of afterburners. (Side note: The Concorde was famous for its engine’s afterburners, which consumed fuel at an astonishing rate.)

By cutting out this technology of yesterday, Aerion has dramatically improved the environmental impact of every AS2 flight. Nonetheless, every engine still requires fuel. That’s why Aerion crafted its SBJ with the ability to accept 100% biofuels, instead of going halfway to green with blended fuels. Our engines and fuel systems will ensure your flight is luxurious and amazingly quick, but without harming the environment we care so deeply about.

We have also agreed to offset all of our customer’s carbon emissions, regardless of the type of fuel they use for their flights. This commitment, along with the AS2’s ability to utilize 100% synthetic fuels, creates the opportunity for operations of the AS2 to be carbon negative. No other manufacturer can make that commitment. We already have.

Even so, the entire Aerion team is not merely content with establishing new standards for the aircraft industry. For years, we have set out to reimagine our industry’s ideas of what’s even possible.

These may sound like bold claims, but our unprecedented times require far more than mere business as usual. As a result, Aerion Supersonic is on a mission to bring supersonic flight back to the globe. To this end, the AS2 SBJ enables unbelievable speed to afford you more time to do what you care most about in life. Even better, high speed, coupled with true luxury, won’t come at a cost to our environment. Not when you are flying on Aerion, the first aircraft manufacturer to commit to carbon neutrality throughout its operations.

 

  • Collaboration brings Spire Global’s renowned weather intelligence systems to the pioneering Aerion AS2 Supersonic Business Jet
  • Data and forecasting capabilities will facilitate the AS2 flying supersonically without delivering a sonic boom to ground level
  • Spire technology will also enable significant reduction in unwanted high-altitude contrails

Reno, NV./San Francisco, CA. November 23, 2020 – Aerion Supersonic, the leader in supersonic technology, and Spire Global, Inc., a space-powered Earth information company, today announced a collaboration to support Aerion’s Boomless CruiseTM technology for the AS2, the first-ever privately built supersonic commercial aircraft. Aerion will use Spire Data and forecasting capabilities to facilitate the AS2 flying supersonically without delivering a sonic boom to ground level. In addition, Spire technology will also enable significant reduction in unwanted high-altitude contrails.

As an established provider of aviation weather and support services, Spire offers incredibly accurate weather tracking and predicting solutions through its proprietary constellation of satellites. Spire’s weather capabilities will enable Aerion’s AS2 to fly at supersonic speeds over land with no perceived noise on the ground. Spire Global will provide high fidelity weather models that will be coupled into the Aerion’s Boomless Cruise™ technology to compute an optimized flight plan where the AS2 can be flown at supersonic speeds.

“Aerion is building next generation technology to support future transportation needs with a sustainable environment firmly embedded in their business plan. This aligns 100% not just with the technology but also the values of Spire. Spire Aviation is excited to be supporting Aerion’s mission with our data and predictive technology, allowing the company to increase fuel conservation, improve operational efficiencies, and reduce the environmental footprint” said Peter Platzer, CEO of Spire Global.

Spire’s vertical weather model support services will include a medium range forecast model, short-range aviation weather forecasting capabilities and historical weather forecasts that will form a critical component of Aerion’s Boomless Cruise™ system that calculates optimized en-route flight planning. Aerion is the first commercial manufacturer to engineer the real-time capability to harness Mach cut-off, eliminating the sonic boom noise heard from the ground.

“Our partnership with Spire Global brings together the power of our two innovative companies to truly transform global mobility. Spire owns and operates one of the largest satellite constellations in the world, tracking and predicting the world’s weather systems and Aerion has designed the most advanced supersonic aircraft in history as well as the most advanced environmentally responsible business jet in history.” says Aerion Chairman, President & CEO, Tom Vice.

“At Aerion we are deeply committed to our beliefs that new innovations must be kind to our planet and responsibly address the issues of noise and the impact of emissions on climate change. Through this partnership we will harness Spire’s powerful understanding of weather conditions and predictive atmospheric data analytics to fly at supersonic speeds over land without the disturbance of the sonic boom and also predict the formation of contrails allowing us to flight plan accordingly and minimize the impact on our climate.”

Aerion’s pursuit of faster point-to-point travel begins with the launch of the AS2 supersonic business jet. Designed to be inherently environmentally responsible from first flight, the AS2 is the first supersonic aircraft designed to be powered by 100% engineered synthetic fuel and reach supersonic speeds without the need for an afterburner.

The manufacture of 300 AS2 aircraft is planned for the first decade of production. The AS2 will be the first aircraft to be assembled at the company’s new global headquarters in Melbourne, Florida – Aerion Park. The state-of-the-art development – powered by clean energy – will incorporate headquarters operations plus an integrated campus for research, design, build, and maintenance of the company’s supersonic aircraft.

The divide between the digital world of AI and the physical one we inhabit still looms large in the consumer economy, but the industrial economy is bridging this gulf, harnessing AI through something called digital twin technology. One company, Aerion Supersonic, is now using digital twin in its most ambitious application.

The development of the Aerion AS2 supersonic business jet has reached an important milestone in its development. The American manufacturer announced yesterday that it had completed the process of wind tunnel testing on the design.

  • Aerion AS2 completes extensive wind tunnel testing – amassing the equivalent of 78,000 nautical miles flown
  • Extensive low and high-speed testing program allows Aerion engineers to assess more than 200,000 in-flight data points on the AS2 supersonic business jet
  • Combination of advanced digital modelling and physical model-based wind tunnel testing allow Aerion to fast-track development program ahead of 2023 start

Reno, NV: November 10, 2020 – Supersonic aircraft company, Aerion, the leader in supersonic technology, has completed a major milestone in the development of the AS2 business jet after concluding high and low speed wind tunnel testing, amassing hundreds of simulated flight hours which represent the equivalent of 78,000 nautical miles flown.

Testing in combination with the data points amassed from Aerion’s digital modelling of the AS2 allows engineers to validate the precise aerodynamic shape of the aircraft to a high level of fidelity and detail – a critical step as the company moves towards AS2 assembly starting in 2023 with key components starting manufacturing in 2022. During high and low speed wind tunnel testing, concluded in some of the most renowned testing facilities in Europe and North America, Aerion’s engineers assessed more than 200,000 data points on the AS2 supersonic business jet.

During this phase of testing the full operational envelope of the AS2 was assessed – from take-off and landing, subsonic cruise, Boomless CruiseTM, supersonic cruise through to dive speed. The wind tunnel testing also allows Aerion’s engineering team to assess aerodynamic impact in key operational conditions, such as deployment of landing gear and wing icing while also assessing handling qualities.

Aerion’s high speed testing was completed in conjunction with French aerospace testing and research experts, ONERA in Modane, France. Leveraging the extensive testing expertise and facilities at ONERA, Aerion used the testing program to evaluate high speed performance, loads, stability and control at both transonic and supersonic velocities. Through more than 1,000 cycles the team were able to assess performance over the course of an equivalent 72,000 nautical miles flown.

“Digital modelling and wind tunnel testing are not mutually exclusive in the sense that you do one or the other – they are entirely complementary in a robust development program,” says Aerion’s Director, System Test & Evaluation, Robert (Bob) Lewis. “This testing is an important validation step in the development of the AS2, allowing us to collect a high volume of data in a short time through the full operational envelope of the aircraft to ensure our design exceeds performance expectations.”

The combination of digital modelling using aerodynamic optimization tools developed in-house by subsidiary company, Aerion Technologies and the wind tunnel testing program enables Aerion to negate the need for costly demonstrator aircraft and accelerate the program to the final stages of validation. The data accrued from wind tunnel testing also contributes to defining more accurate loads, a vital step in ensuring the AS2 achieves its final weight targets.

“The conclusion of this phase of the development program is a major milestone for Aerion and the AS2” said Tom Vice, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. “In 2023 when we start manufacturing at Aerion Park the first AS2 we build will be a production-specification aircraft. This key phase of testing validates our aerodynamic assumptions and tells us that the AS2 will achieve all of our performance expectations and in doing so, takes us a significant step closer to first flight.”

Aerion’s pursuit of faster point-to-point travel begins with the launch of the AS2 supersonic business jet. Designed to be inherently environmentally responsible from first flight, the AS2 is the first supersonic aircraft designed to be powered by 100% engineered synthetic fuel and reach supersonic speeds without the need for an afterburner.

The manufacture of 300 AS2 aircraft is planned for the first decade of production. The AS2 will be the first aircraft to be assembled at the company’s new global headquarters in Melbourne, Florida – Aerion Park. The state-of-the-art development – powered by clean energy – will incorporate headquarters operations plus an integrated campus for research, design, build, and maintenance of the company’s supersonic aircraft.

Using Siemens Xcelerator portfolio, Aerion can use advanced design and simulation software to speed aircraft development, as well as achieve superior levels of performance in flight and excellence in operations.

Aerion’s AS2 supersonic business jet (SBJ), the first privately-designed supersonic airplane in history, is taking the next major step towards flying passengers in quiet luxury at speeds well above 1,000 mph. The AS2 is filled with state-of-the-art technology and engineering, but to make this next leap, it will utilize technology dating back to 1871 — the wind tunnel.

Up to this point, the new supersonic jet’s performance has been modeled using special aerodynamic optimization tools developed in-house and run on scalable cloud computing technology to provide thousands of data points with incredible detail on how subsonic, transonic, and supersonic flight each impact the AS2’s airframe.

As Aerion EVP Alex Egeler explains, “Our Aerion Technologies design optimization process is built from a combination of NASA-developed analysis CFD software, commercial tools and our own internal framework to be highly scalable. This flexible framework allows us to simulate millions of parametric design scenarios on the cloud and determine robust solutions — all in the virtual world at a speed previously unseen in business jet development.”

You may be wondering why an innovative company like Aerion, using today’s most powerful technology to bring us closer together through the power of supersonic flight, would need to incorporate a relatively ancient technology like wind tunnel testing. But to build supersonic jets to Aerion’s exacting standards, such testing is unavoidable.

Aerion’s Director, System Test and Evaluation, Bob Lewis, explains: “While the onset of increasingly sophisticated computer modelling technology has greatly enhanced aerospace design, wind tunnel testing remains a key component in the development cycle. Certain aspects of aircraft design remain difficult to fully model virtually and still require validation through wind tunnel testing. We are working with the world’s best wind tunnel model builders and the global leaders in wind tunnel technology to validate our virtual findings and ensure the AS2 design exceeds expectations.”

With such validation in mind, wind tunnel testing puts scale models of airplanes to the test in a variety of lab-controlled conditions and speeds. Although the general principle of wind tunnel testing is the same, today’s test labs are a far cry from the rudimentary wind tunnel used by the Wright Brothers in Dayton, Ohio.

Aerion has recently created two models for wind tunnel tests. The company partnered with Tri Models Inc. of Huntington Beach, California, to build a low-speed model with a nine-foot wingspan. The low speed tests will be completed in Georgia during the month of October. By the way, don’t let the name fool you — the low speed tests will simulate speeds of less than 1 Mach.

The smaller high-speed model, on the other hand, is being built by the Dutch firm NLR which will be tested in France by aeronautical experts ONERA. (It should be noted, France has a rich history of wind tunnel testing since the early 1900’s, when Gustave Eiffel set up his first wind tunnel near the foot of the tower bearing his name.)

ONERA’s testing will reach speeds the AS2 will never fly passengers at but testing the supersonic jet’s design far beyond its flight profile will produce a wealth of crucial data for the team.

The wind tunnel testing held in Georgia and France will also provide Aerion’s team with a wide range of real-world data. It is expected to confirm the computer models in some ways but provide areas for future refinement in others. All of this vital information will come together in the AS2’s next step towards flying its first passenger, the Preliminary Design Review (PDR).

All of these efforts will coalesce in the next few key years. The company’s new supersonic airplane is on track to enter production in 2023. Accordingly, Aerion plans to build 300 planes in its first year at the recently announced Aerion Park headquarters in Florida.

The state-of-the-art facility will not only be the production home of the supersonic business jet but will be used to complete the remainder of the design process. Last, as an important economic boon to the local and national economy, we are proud to announce Aerion’s new HQ on Florida’s Space Coast represents a $300 million investment, expected to create 675 high-paying jobs.

Reno, NV & Falls Church, VA, 15 October 2020 – Supersonic aircraft company, Aerion, the leader in supersonic technology and global mobility, and Electra.Aero, a company leading the development of a new generation of electric short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft have agreed to collaborate on developing the global mobility solutions of tomorrow.

Aerion intends to develop a global mobility ecosystem, supported by leading global partners, that integrates and connects the point of departure to the point of destination, optimized for high-speed travel with different, innovative modes of transportation. Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the two companies, Electra will become one of the preferred partners of Aerion ConnectTM in the greater New York metropolitan area as well as other potential regional hubs to explore an integrated, high-speed experience.

Aerion CEO, President & Chairman, Tom Vice said: “Our intent at Aerion is not just to redefine speed and the experience of global travel but to build an entire ecosystem for point to point mobility.”

“We’re also clear that enabling this reinvented, faster ecosystem will require world-class partners to achieve success. Accordingly, I’m delighted to launch this partnership with Electra and their new generation of eSTOLs which with their large cabin, optimal range, speed and emissions capabilities, will integrate seamlessly into our vision of the future.”

“Aerion and Electra offer the perfect combination of speed and convenience” said Electra CEO John Langford. “Electra’s powered-lift aircraft can bring air service to areas of less than 100 feet. This will open new opportunities to connect urban, suburban, and remote areas.”

Electra.aero is developing a new generation of electric short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft that promise to help shape the future of regional mobility aircraft. The company’s innovative “powered lift” concept will enable Electra aircraft to operate in and out of space currently used for parking garages, helicopter terminals, docks, or barges.

In combining Electra’s eSTOL with Aerion’s AS2 supersonic business jet the two companies aim to advance development of urban and regional transportation networks, enabling a faster end-to-end journey and delivered in a seamless luxury experience through Aerion ConnectTM. The two companies are united in a belief that air travel should be an enjoyable, time-efficient and luxurious experience again – one that answers customers’ needs and lifestyles.

Aerion’s pursuit of faster point-to-point travel begins with the launch of the new AS2 supersonic private jet. Designed to be inherently environmentally responsible from first flight, the AS2 is the first supersonic jet designed to be powered by 100 percent synthetic fuel and will be capable of supersonic speeds of around 1000mph (Mach 1.4).

The AS2 will be the first aircraft to be assembled at Aerion’s new global headquarters in Melbourne, Florida – Aerion Park. The state-of-the-art development, powered by clean energy, will incorporate headquarters operations plus an integrated campus for research, design, build and support of the company’s new supersonic aircraft.

Reno, NV: 12 October 2020 – Supersonic aircraft company, Aerion, the leader in supersonic technology, today announced it has selected PPG, to provide the flight deck windshields and cabin window transparencies for the AS2 supersonic business jet.

A leading manufacturer of original equipment and replacement aircraft transparencies as well as paints, coatings and specialty materials, PPG has collaborated on the AS2 program since 2019. The company joins Aerion’s growing team of globally-renowned technical partners, as progress on the AS2’s development gathers pace ahead of manufacturing commencing in 2023 at Aerion Park. PPG brings more than 90 years of experience in design, certification and serialized production of advanced transparencies to aircraft OEMs and to the development of the AS2.

“Aerion Supersonic selected PPG to develop opportunities for product optimization and to help define the entire cockpit on the AS2 business jet due to our technical expertise in transparencies,” said Steve Kight, PPG global business director, civil transparencies, aerospace. “PPG is proud to support this important program, and we look forward to our growing relationship with Aerion.”

“PPG is a trusted and well-respected name known throughout the aerospace community that brings a comprehensive range of materials and solutions to the AS2 program” said Tom Vice, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. “We are delighted to officially welcome PPG to the global AS2 team and look forward to our ongoing collaboration as we progress the AS2 to production in 2023.”

PPG’s global aerospace business offers coatings, sealants, transparencies, packaging and application systems, and transparent armour, as well as chemical management and other services.

Aerion’s pursuit of faster point-to-point travel begins with the launch of the new AS2 supersonic private jet. Designed to be inherently environmentally responsible from first flight, the AS2 is the first supersonic jet designed to be powered by 100 percent synthetic fuel and reach supersonic speeds without the need for an afterburner.

The AS2 will be the first aircraft to be assembled at Aerion’s new global headquarters in Melbourne, Florida – Aerion Park where the company will break ground this year. The state-of-the-art development, powered by clean energy, will incorporate headquarters operations plus an integrated campus for research, design, build and support of the company’s new supersonic aircraft.

Commercial flying at the speed of sound is closer to a comeback as rivals position themselves for the next era.

According to Aerion, its AS2 supersonic aircraft will cruise at Mach 1.4, allowing for a New York-to-London flight in four hours. Illustration: Aerion

As the second era of faster-than-sound air travel nears, one of the niche industry’s pioneering players is looking further into the future—toward flights that are even faster.

Aerion Corp., the supersonic jet builder founded by Texas billionaire Robert Bass, plans to deliver its first AS2 business jet in 2027, with top speeds of 1.4 times the speed of sound, or about 1,074 mph (1,728 kph)—roughly double that of traditional commercial aircraft. Still, with rivals like Boom Technologies and others advancing their own supersonic plans, Aerion Chief Executive Officer Tom Vice is already anticipating the arrival of hypersonic travel.

“Our long-term vision is to allow people to travel between any two points on the planet within three hours,” Vice said Oct. 2 in an interview with Bloomberg News. To do so—and to avoid the physical rigors and technical complexities of suborbital space flight—Aerion’s next craft would have to cruise within the atmosphere at more than four times the speed of sound, or about 3,000 mph (4,828 kph).

Aerion, which is moving its headquarters from Reno, Nevada, to Melbourne, Florida—adjacent to its planned assembly center—is one of several firms in the nascent field of supersonic civil aviation, which has been heating up this year despite the economic shocks of the coronavirus pandemic.

Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. surprised some investors in August with plans for a Mach 3 aircraft seating as many as 19 people, an interim step on the company’s path toward eventual hypersonic point-to-point travel. Virgin’s supersonic project is being assisted by Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc, which is also working with Boom on supersonic engine technologies.

And a fourth player, Boston-based Spike Aerospace, plans a 12-18-passenger supersonic jet that cruises at Mach 1.6 and has range to cover nonstop flights from London to Hong Kong and Dubai to New York. The company hasn’t offered a timeline for its development, however.

Texas billionaire Robert Bass with a model of his planned supersonic business jet in 2014.Photographer: Bloomberg

While many companies in this space have been big on pronouncements, the engineering obstacles to bringing a new generation of supersonic planes—let alone hypersonic planes—to market are nothing to sniff at. Aerion’s aspiration to hypersonic speeds comes almost five years before it even plans to build a production-model of its $120 million supersonic business jet, and seven years before the first delivery, assuming everything goes right.

Boeing Co. holds an equity stake in Aerion, while General Electric Co. is designing and building a new Affinity supersonic engine for the company.

Aerion said it plans further capital raises over the next three or four years and will add additional equity investors before it turns to the debt market for financing, Vice said.

Boom Technologies, meanwhile, plans a $200 million supersonic jet that can carry 65 to 85 passengers at more than twice the speed of sound, which it said will enter service by 2030. The company has orders for 30 jets from Japan Airlines Co. Ltd and Virgin Group.

Colorado-based Boom plans to introduce a one-third demonstration model on Wednesday, the XB-1, which will allow the company to begin flight testing in 2021 to glean data on the jet’s wings and fuselage. Boom plans to use three GE J85 engines to power the XB-1 and is evaluating engine designs with Rolls-Royce for the production aircraft, which Boom calls Overture.

Read More: Boom Technology Wants to Build Supersonic Jet That Cuts Flight Times in Half

Vice argues that Aerion has an advantage over supersonic competitors when it comes to engine development, pointing to its partnership with GE and its plan to build the first commercial supersonic power plant in more than five decades. The design is exclusive for Aerion, said Vice, who declined to disclose how much the engine development will cost or how it’s being financed.

“Somebody else wanting to build a supersonic business jet—they’re going to have to go find a different engine,’’ Vice said. Aerion “for sure” will be the first new supersonic commercial aircraft to market, he predicted. “We’ll get there years ahead of anybody else.”

Aerion contends its “boomless cruise” technology will prevent sonic booms from reaching the ground. Illustration: Aerion

Aerion said it scoured the world for an engine, including Russian designs that would meet noise restrictions, fuel-burn requirements and reliability over thousands of hours of high-speed flying. No existing engines fit the bill, though. Instead, the company turned to GE to build an engine with 20,000 pounds of thrust, special acoustic linings to reduce take-off noise and dual turbo-fans that don’t require fuel-guzzling afterburners.

GE’s Affinity engine will also be the first designed to run on traditional kerosene and synthetic fuel made in part by capturing carbon dioxide from the air. GE spokesman Nick Hurm confirmed the company’s “unique commercial agreement with Aerion” to build the engine, but declined to disclose financial terms.

Cruising at Mach 1.4, the AS2 would allow for a New York-London flight in four hours or London-Chicago in five hours, each two hours faster than conventional jet flights. The company said it has a $3.5 billion order backlog.

Virgin Galactic’s Mach 3 aircraft design for high speed travelIllustration: Virgin Galactic

As if making supersonic work again wasn’t hard enough, some of these companies are also working toward what they say will be an environmentally responsible means of travel, without the extreme noise or emissions that accompanied the former Concorde.

Unlike that aircraft’s sonic boom, Aerion contends its “boomless cruise” technology will make the boom refract off a denser, lower layer of air, never reaching the ground. Aerion and Boom also plan to use new synthetic fuels to reduce carbon output.

At some point in the future, as supersonic develops into a viable mode for civil aviation, well-heeled travelers keen to save even more time may be able to turn to hypersonic flights—where cruise velocities can top Mach 5. Recently, hypersonic flight has been in the news as Russia, China and the U.S. invest enormous research and funds into new, nuclear-capable missiles and uncrewed drones. (Orbital space vehicles routinely re-enter the earth’s atmosphere at Mach 25, or 19,000 mph; meanwhile, several military fighter jets can top Mach 2, or 1,500 mph.)

“Supersonic business jets remain an intriguing idea. Supersonic airliners remain unlikely,” said Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst with the Teal Group. “Hypersonic travel remains a very remote prospect. If anyone can build a hypersonic weapon that functions (other than a rocket), then a few decades later we might see this technology commercialized.”