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.

 

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.

At Aerion Supersonic, our minds are always working on the future of global mobility. We envision a future where we will connect any two major cities in three hours. Or less. Our first step is supersonic flight. But sometimes, we must peer into the past to build for the future. One historical date comes to mind: October 24, 2003.

On this chilly October day, the Concorde made its final flight from New York City to London, ending almost 30 years of service as the only fleet of supersonic jets available to the public. The Concorde was the ultimate status symbol of luxury. Business moguls, movie stars, and jetsetter politicians (no pun intended) bragged about traveling faster between continents than any of their peers. The last flight’s passengers included Christie Brinkley, Joan Collins, and a private couple from Ohio that paid $60,000 on eBay for the ride.

The Concorde stands as a landmark work of aeronautical engineering. From its distinctive slanted droop-nose that lowered during takeoffs and landings to its iconic delta wing configuration, it’s impossible to mistake the Concorde for another plane. But for all the marvels of its design — a joint effort between the British and French governments — the Concorde faced challenges throughout its lifetime.

Although the Concorde broke barriers holding us back from supersonic travel, it was costly and difficult to operate. Its four afterburner engines came from the world of fighter aircraft. This means they brought the noise of fighter jets with them. The Concorde was also limited from flying over land due to its massive sonic booms, preventing it from carrying passengers to more far-flung destinations — and introducing a distracting level of noise into the cabin.

Those same engines also consumed an astonishing level of fuel. (A whopping 6,770 gallons an hour to be exact.) Unsurprisingly, the Concorde received the brunt of an environmental movement just taking shape as the aircraft took flight — via demonstrations at airports by protesters.

Yet, despite these challenges, the Concorde made a stunning mark on aviation and transportation culture. Its supersonic flight capabilities allowed passengers to spend less time traveling and more with the people they love, forging business deals, and fulfilling many of the other important reasons we journey.

It has been 17 years since the Concorde stopped flying, and no supersonic replacement has taken to the skies. Aerion believes time is the most precious commodity we have. So why are we willing to waste it onboard aircraft? As pointed out by the Telegraph, air travel takes longer today than it did in the 1960s. We believe there is a better way to venture — a return to supersonic flight with the Aerion AS2 Supersonic.

The AS2 will bring us to the supersonic skies in style. We’ve designed this supersonic business jet (SBJ) to honor the legacy of the Concorde, but to improve on it in every way. In short, the AS2 can be summarized this way: “Goodbye, noise pollution, hello, sustainability!”

Aerion has engineered every inch of the AS2 to suit the demands of today’s discerning flyers. We don’t believe “low boom” supersonic flight is enough, so we’ve moved all the way to super-silent flight, featuring our “Boomless Cruise” technology and incredibly efficient new GE Affinity supersonic engines — the first civil supersonic engines designed in 50 years.

But the AS2 isn’t just quiet for those on the ground. When our SBJ passes overhead people will never experience the window-rattling sonic boom popular culture has associated with supersonic flight — and it’s whisper-quiet for those in the cabin as well. Whether you want to stay productive or chat with a companion, you’ll hardly know you’re traveling at more than 1,000 mph.

On top of all the incredible technology Aerion Supersonic has built into the AS2 airframe, we are also proud of its sustainability. The Concorde was met by protesters, but our “green speed” will not damage the environment. In fact, Aerion is the first aircraft manufacturer to commit to carbon neutrality from first flight; a promise encompassing our aircraft and the operations in which it is built.

Ultimately, the AS2 has the potential to not only carry passengers at incredible speeds, but to do so with a negative carbon footprint. Aerion Supersonic believes it is time to disrupt travel. And the AS2 supersonic business jet is the aircraft that will change how we journey through the skies, giving us time back for what matters most.

Humanity is confronting the most extraordinary crisis our generation has ever seen. We are being challenged with the simultaneous impacts from a global health crisis, as coronavirus has rapidly spread across both our country and our world, and a devastating financial crisis, not just to the global markets but also to the economic impacts being felt around every kitchen table.

As a company, we are taking the necessary actions to navigate this crisis. We aren’t just going to hunker down and weather this storm; instead we will look forward to a brighter tomorrow. We remain steadfast in our resolve to have a profound impact on our world. We will emerge stronger.

Ingenuity and courage will defeat this virus, our financial markets will recover, and we will get people back to work. It will not be easy – in fact, it will be excruciatingly hard. However, I deeply believe that the greatest leaders and innovators are born out of times like these. We will persevere. We will beat this. And when we do, human connections will be more important than ever; human connections will rebuild our world.

Aerion is fundamentally disrupting the mobility and transportation market. We are built on the incredible vision of our founders. Dr. Richard Tracy is a technical pioneer and the godfather of Aerion. He created the original inspiration for Aerion and continues working with us today on our product roadmap and technologies of the future. Robert Bass is focused on an unwavering commitment to make Aerion and the AS2 successful. His interest in the technical details and willingness to support the team in countless ways drives us to be our very best. Both leaders genuinely love this company, people and the mission.

Our goals are far greater than just getting somewhere faster. As part of our mission to bring supersonic mobility to the world, we are committed to addressing climate change in aviation and will work hard to be part of the solution to reverse it. We take environmental stewardship very seriously and have a plan for carbon-neutral operations from flight one. Aerion’s AS2 will be the first supersonic aircraft designed with the ability to accept 100% synthetic fuel and reach supersonic without an afterburner. We’re so committed to driving change that we will share our research on biofuels with the world.

Over the last two years, Aerion’s world class team has seen tremendous growth. Developing the next generation of supersonic aircraft requires incredibly talented aerodynamicists, configuration engineers, software tool designers, manufactures and support staff. We have brought together some of the most talented professionals from aerospace, technology, automotive and defense industries. Many have left world-renowned and innovative start-up organizations, uprooting family and relocating to take a chance on building something special at Aerion. The dedication and innovative spirit of our team is incredible. I am so very proud of the women and men of our company. This is our eighth week working virtually. Our team is safe and healthy, but we miss one another.

Much of 2019 was focused on aligning with key suppliers who bring world class expertise to the AS2. Boeing, GE, Spirit, Aernnova, GKN, Safran, and Potez have records of excellence in aerospace. These suppliers are working with Aerion’s engineers and designers on a daily basis, creating breakthroughs like the exceedingly efficient GE Affinity supersonic engine and the AS2’s ingenious Boomless Cruise™ technology. The AS2 will be the first commercial aircraft to fly at supersonic speeds over land with virtually no indication on the ground. We have built a global team that is rapidly maturing the AS2 from design concept to reality.

Flexjet, our launch customer has boldly supported Aerion with a $2.6 billion order for twenty of the first AS2 aircraft. They have continued to be a staunch supporter of the program and share our passion for sustainable supersonics, challenging the status quo of the industry. Kenn Ricci and the Flexjet team are fellow visionaries and pioneers.

While working virtually, we have released the design of our new aircraft and announced our new home, Aerion Park in Melbourne, Florida. Our new global headquarters will be more than a design and manufacturing facility – it will be an environmentally responsible center that our team and the local community will be proud of, an integrated campus for research, design, manufacturing and support that will generate at least 675 jobs in the Space Coast and Brevard county.

Our vision and our purpose have not changed. We will hold our heads high, act always with integrity and empathy, and remain compassionate, respectful and committed. We will sacrifice in the short term in order to achieve our long-term purpose. High speed travel is not for a select few. While we have started with the business jet market, we are rapidly expanding to defense and commercial markets. Applying our company’s technologies, innovations, and know-how to support the women and men in uniform, who put their lives on the line to protect freedom around the world, is not only a privilege, it is a duty.

The AS2 is just the first in a family of Aerion Supersonic aircraft. We envision disruptive, innovative products in every segment of aviation, challenging an industry that hasn’t seen this kind of innovation in over 50 years. New technologies are invariably born in niche markets first, providing the basis for more widespread adoption. Aerion’s endeavor opens the world to the widespread adoption of new, high speed, sustainable innovation.

Supersonic is back. So is innovation in global mobility. Join us and change the world.

“The desire to fly is an idea handed down to us by our ancestors who, in their grueling travels across trackless lands in prehistoric times, looked enviously on the birds soaring freely through space, at full speed, above all obstacles, on the infinite highway of the air.”

– Wilbur Wright

We all have hobbies outside of work, and at Aerion, it’s no surprise that traveling, learning more about aviation, and flying planes tend to be some of the more popular hobbies among our employees. Across departments, we have over 20 certified pilots and pilots in training. To celebrate World Pilot’s Day this weekend, we asked a few of them to share a bit about their experience flying – here’s what they had to say:

Jacob Cooper, Research/Aerodynamics Engineer

What is your favorite aircraft that you have flown?

I’ve only flown Cessna 172’s.

What motivated you to become a pilot?

Just the simple love of flight.

What is your favorite memory while flying?

Flying over my grandparent’s lake house right after I got my license and waving to them with the wingtips of the airplane.

John Wait, Propulsion Engineer

What is your favorite aircraft that you have flown?

The last one I flew – the J3 Piper Club. I love the experience of flying a plane I have not flown before.

What motivated you to become a pilot?

It was a desire for as long as I can remember. I finally rationalized flight training a year before my kid’s tuition bills would start.

What is your favorite memory while flying?

Doing touch-and-gos in the strong crosswind generated by the approaching dust storm. I’d nail a banked one wheel landing, then abort one, nail one, then abort one, then the tower told me they wanted their airplane in the hangar now or I would never fly it again. As I turned onto the taxiway two people grabbed my wing tips and walked me to the open hangar door. I got a dressing down from the Chief Pilot…but he had a smile on his face the whole time. It’s definitely not the time I ran out of fuel at 7,000 feet.

Mike Kerho, Senior Aerodynamics Engineer

What is your favorite aircraft that you have flown?

My favorite aircraft to fly has been a 1946 Piper J-3 Cub.

What motivated you to become a pilot?

I’ve always been fascinated with flight. I got my license when I was 18. I’ve spent the better part of 35 years studying it, but it still seems like magic.

What is your favorite memory while flying?

My favorite flying memories are from taking my family and friends up, especially for aerobatics.

Masa Hirvonen, Technical Director, Flight Control Systems

What is your favorite aircraft that you have flown?

Some of my favorite airplanes are Beechcraft Bonanzas and Barons and of course, my currently co-owned CubCrafters SportCub. Probably the most exotic aircraft I have flown is Antonov AN-2, but the most favorite airplane? Any one I can get hold of and fly…!

What other types of aircrafts have you flown?

I am a commercial pilot (ASEL, AMEL) and a flight instructor (CFI, CFII, MEI, AGI) with an instrument rating. I have flown roughly 40 different flying contraptions from gliders to turbine twins since I started flying in Finland when I was 15 years old (over 30 years ago).

Roger Noble, Vice President, Sales

What is your favorite aircraft that you have flown?

My favorite aircraft is the McDonnell Douglas F4-E “Phantom II” Supersonic Fighter. I flew the Phantom from 1985-1992 during USAF Active Duty and have 1,300+ flight hours and 1,000+ Sorties. The Phantom used two GE Afterburning Engines and could fly close to Mach 2.0. The model I flew had both a Dogfighting Air-To-Air Combat role as well as an Air-To-Ground Combat ordinance delivery role.

How much have you flown?

I have about 9,000 hours total flight time. It’s a passion without any doubt.

David Ambrose, Structural Design Lead

What is your favorite aircraft that you have flown?

My RV-8A. It’s a 2 seat (tandem) kit airplane that cruises at 155kts while only burning 7.6 gallons per hour of fuel and it is also capable of doing aerobatics.

What motivated you to become a pilot?

My father was a pilot and had a lot of books on flying laying around so I just started reading them at a young age. I taught myself how to use his Jeppesen E6-b flight computer (also known as the “Wiz Wheel” or “Flight Confuser”) in the 6th grade and would do time/speed/distance calculations on car trips. Kids back then were into building plastic models of cars and airplanes so I did a lot of that and then RC planes and then started taking flying lessons at Cleveland Hopkins airport when I was 15.

What is your favorite memory while flying?

I have a few – my first solo flight in a Cessna 152 at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport flying off a grass runway that no longer exists (I rode my bike to get to the flying lesson), flying from CA to Oshkosh for the big week long EAA AirVenture airshow, and taking my wife for her first ride in our RV-8A homebuilt airplane after 10 years of building it.

Doug Coleman, General Counsel, EVP, Governance and Compliance

What is your favorite aircraft that you have flown?

1942 Waco UPF-7.

What motivated you to become a pilot?

I wanted to be an airline pilot!

What is your favorite memory while flying?

#1 – Flying with my wife to a grass strip (3W3) on the Chesapeake Bay to pick crabs on our first date.
#2 – Skipping law school classes to fly traffic reports for WNNK-104 in Harrisburg PA.

Max Warden, Principal Engineer

What is your favorite aircraft that you have flown?

Bellanca Citabria for just boring holes in the sky, Aerostar 601 for just get’n up and going.

What motivated you to become a pilot?

The “want” to be a Navy Pilot…but really my Dad.

What is your favorite memory while flying?

Flying my first girlfriend to Santa Paula and renting a ’57 Chevy to tour the town of Solvang – age 17.

Jeremy Wills, Avionics Lead Engineer

What is your favorite aircraft that you have flown?

The vast majority of my flying time is in Cessna 152s. I got checked out on a 172 once and it felt like I was flying a rocket ship.

What motivated you to become a pilot?

I have loved aircraft for as long as I can remember. Early in my engineering career the opportunity came up to take flying lessons, and have work pay for part of it, and I jumped at the chance.

What is your favorite memory while flying?

The feeling of accomplishment after first solo and then later passing my FAA check ride. It was impossible to get the smile off my face.

Here at Aerion, we’re committed to designing a method of travel that is not only faster but also addresses the climate crisis head on.

We strongly believe we can transform the future of aviation without compromising the future of the planet. Being kind to our planet is deeply ingrained in Aerion’s ethos. Speed and the protection of our environment are not mutually exclusive. In fact, our environmental commitment extends to our company and our products. As we’re creating a new paradigm in the aerospace industry that supports humanity’s desire for more face-to-face communication – a desire ever more clear as that connection is cut off during the COVID-19 crisis – we also understand the environmental challenges historically associated with the development and operation of supersonic aircraft. At the same time, we believe that any innovation – no matter how beneficial to mankind – must also protect the environment for future generations. Sustainable supersonic travel is possible. But it requires new levels of innovation, and Aerion is committed to innovating without compromise.

Aerion’s approach is different: We have committed from day one to have neutral carbon emissions. This is not a future goal, but something that is happening right now.

We’re going to achieve that goal using a balanced, holistic approach that includes our facilities, design, manufacturing, customer operations and even the retirement of the aircraft at the end of its useful life.

We believe that with innovation, sustainable supersonic travel is possible.

A huge part of what will make the AS2 sustainable is the Affinity engine.

Aerion has worked with GE to create the first modern, non-afterburning, supersonic jet engine designed to be civil-certified. The last civil-certified supersonic engine was the Concorde’s Rolls-Royce Olympus, designed and built more than five decades ago. As you know, engine technology has significantly advanced since then.

In addition to incorporating new materials and components that specifically address not only propulsion performance but also emissions and noise, the Affinity engine is also specified for use with 100 percent synthetic fuels. By operating on pure synthetic fuel, lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by up to 80%.

Another issue that has held up supersonic aviation in the past is the sonic boom, which we’re addressing with our Boomless Cruise™ technology.

Boomless Cruise™ will enable the AS2 to fly at low supersonic speeds while preventing its sonic boom from reaching the surface of the earth. The phenomenon underlying Boomless Cruise™ has been studied for over six decades. Effectively, at low supersonic speeds, the sonic boom pressure wave can encounter a layer in the lower atmosphere (known as the caustic layer) that acts much like a reflective surface and causes the pressure wave to refract or bend away from that layer. We all see strong examples of refraction daily. When the sun or the moon are low on the horizon, they appear much larger than when they are directly overhead. This is caused by the light waves bending as they pass through the atmosphere at shallow angles.

A similar situation occurs with sonic booms. The altitude at which the caustic layer occurs is strongly related to the temperature profile of the atmosphere and the presence of any temperature inversion layers that may exist in the air beneath a supersonic airplane. Why is it temperature dependent? Because the main factor that causes variations in the atmospheric speed of sound is air temperature. By knowing what the atmospheric temperature profile is in the volume of air surrounding the aircraft as it flies along its flight plan, the caustic layer can be predicted, and with it, the maximum Mach number that an aircraft can fly such that its sonic boom refracts off the caustic layer. It’s also designed to have landing and take-off noise levels that are comparable to today’s modern, quieter subsonic commercial jets.

Sustainability doesn’t just come from the AS2 itself; it also comes down to manufacturing.

If we only focused on building sustainability into the AS2, we would be missing significant opportunities to further reduce our environmental footprint. When we say that sustainability is deeply ingrained in our ethos, we are addressing what it takes from beginning to end to create, sell and operate our aircraft – key characteristics of being good environmental stewards.

Let’s focus briefly on the manufacturing aspects. It starts with the facilities in which we will produce the aircraft. It embodies how the building is constructed, how we heat and cool the internal environment for our employees and for certain manufacturing processes that require climate control, the materials from which the aircraft is made, where those materials originated and how they were created. We have to pay attention to the manufacturing processes themselves and any chemicals that may be required. Those are just a few examples, and we plan to create an independently auditable trail to keep track of how well we are doing to minimize our footprint. In areas that require technologies that may have more significant environmental footprints, we will be seeking ways to balance their impact through thoughtful counter-balancing actions.

In addition to the sustainability elements from the manufacturing of the jet to the jet itself, we’re committed to plant 100 million trees by 2036 to counter-balance carbon emissions.

We have committed to offset all of the CO2 emissions from the operations of each and every AS2. Our 100,000,000-tree pledge is based on our total market forecast and projected fleet utilization rates over the entire lifecycle of the AS2. Our projections start by assuming the AS2’s operate on fossil-based jet fuels which means that as our customers use of synthetic fuel increases Aerion will be reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere through natural sequestration by these forests.

Our success will leverage teaming with a variety of organizations worldwide to create new forests through reforestation/afforestation programs, and projects based upon direct air capture carbon sequestration technologies. In order to manage this expansive program, Aerion is establishing a nonprofit foundation to evaluate, plan and oversee new projects on a continuing basis. The foundation will also be responsible for maintaining a continuing relationship with the various public and private entities that own the land where the forests are created in order to ensure the continuing health of the trees.

We recently announced plans to construct Aerion Park, a new state-of-the-art campus, in Melbourne, Florida. Aerion Park will be an integrated campus for research, design, build and maintenance of our supersonic aircraft, the AS2, which will serve both the general aviation and commercial airliner markets.

Aerion Park represents a multi-year $300 million investment that was made possible through our partnerships with the state of Florida, the Orlando Melbourne International Airport and Brevard County.

Brevard County is home to the pioneers of space exploration, and now the pioneers of sustainable supersonic transportation. We are thrilled to help raise the profile of Florida’s Space Coast as the premier site for the most innovative aerospace work in the world. This partnership with the state of Florida and the Melbourne community will help build the next generation of high-speed transportation networks that revolutionize global mobility with a supersonic aircraft that won’t leave a carbon footprint behind.

Not only will our supersonic aircraft itself be sustainable, but we’ve also given serious consideration to our future operations at Aerion Park. For example, manufacturing and engineering operations will be powered by clean energy and dedicated to creating zero waste, minimizing emissions and recycling water usage.

In the words of Melbourne Mayor Kathy Meehan: Aerion’s business venture to manufacture supersonic business jets in Melbourne reinforces the Space Coast’s national reputation as an aerospace industry leader.

The establishment of Aerion’s Melbourne campus, where we will manufacture our supersonic aircraft, is expected to generate at least 675 highly skilled design and assembly jobs in Florida by 2026. Aerion Park is also expected to attract key aerospace suppliers in the supersonic technology industry to bring business to Florida, creating additional roles for scientists, designers, engineers and aircraft builders.

We plan to break ground on the new campus later this year ahead of manufacturing of the AS2 business jet, commencing in 2023.

Aerion is on a mission to enable a step-change in travel by introducing a new era of supersonic flight – one that is more sustainable and efficient than the era of the Concorde. Technological breakthroughs, including simulation-driven design and composite materials, have allowed us to solve many of the challenges of the past. But simply solving the challenges of the past isn?t enough. Standards for noise and emissions have become increasingly strict over the years, and rightly so. At Aerion, we’re designing a supersonic jet that meets modern day community noise standards and emission requirements and gets people from A to B sustainably.

The design of such an aircraft requires the application of some of the most sophisticated optimization methods – and Aerion’s engineers are experts at just that. The aerodynamic engineers in Reno, and our software team in Palo Alto, have come together to develop design optimization capabilities more commonly found in university labs or research groups. With Aerion’s refined optimization capabilities, we have analyzed millions of design points – all to find that sweet spot that satisfies performance requirements, design constraints, and government regulations.

Let’s get into the weeds a bit and explain how we?ve constructed our design process. The aerodynamic design of the AS2 focuses on two major components: the airframe and the engine inlet. Although both systems influence one another, they exhibit distinct aerodynamic characteristics which require different design approaches. The design of the airframe is focused on optimizing the shape of the wing, the fuselage, and the empennage to minimize the aerodynamic drag on the aircraft when in flight while still allowing enough lift to perform necessary maneuvers. The design of the engine inlet focuses on ensuring that the air ingested by GE’s Affinity engine is at the right velocity and pressure across a huge range of flight conditions – take-off, climb, transonic cruise, supersonic cruise, and landing.

Let’s explain how we optimize the airframe. The biggest challenge with the airframe is reducing the wave drag (the drag caused by shockwaves that occur during supersonic flight). That wave drag can be significantly reduced by using thin wings, a slender fuselage, and a long, tapered nose – but these changes are usually at odds with constraints such as cabin volume, fuel tank size, structural stiffness, pilot visibility, and more. The way to handle these conflicts is to conduct a robust and intelligent search of the design space for a combination of design variables that perform well while satisfying the constraints – this is optimization in a nutshell. In order to develop an effective design optimization process, our engineers work with a high fidelity solver that can predict the aerodynamics of the aircraft accurately, a geometry modeler that can construct the outer mold line (OML) of the aircraft with high fidelity, and optimization software that can control an enormous number of design variables while accounting for constraints. The modeler, the solver, and the optimizer work together like the many parts of an orchestra with the design engineer as the maestro – constantly adjusting settings to make the search effective.

To many in the industry, design optimization is by no means a new concept. But here’s the problem – most of the methods and processes that have been widely adopted are either computationally expensive (meaning they take a long time to complete) or limited by how many design parameters they can tweak at once. Those weaknesses can be caused, among other things, by geometry modelers that don?t permit robust parametric variations, by solvers that are slow or difficult to automate, or by optimizers that are unable to efficiently search more than a handful of variables. By carefully finding, and in some cases building, the best tools to address each of those weaknesses, Aerion engineers were able to take their optimization game to the next level.

Any aircraft configuration determined by the optimization process also must be CAD (Computer-Aided Design) friendly, so engineers and other members of the Aerion team can use these solutions further along in the building process. Therefore, conventional ?mesh-based? deformation methods would not work for our engineers? purposes. So, our engineers developed a scriptable CAD framework called Pascale, which supports the automated CAD model generation and is used inside our optimization framework for geometry deformation. This ?CAD in-the-loop? innovation has allowed the high-fidelity surface of the airframe to be obtained directly from the optimization process. It’s also enabled true scalability, which is one of the most challenging problems to overcome in simulation-driven design.

We evaluated several solvers and found that Cart3D, coupled with its Adjoint Design Framework, was the perfect answer for many of our design challenges. Cart3D’s CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) package provides a robust, automated meshing capability, meaning it can compute thousands of simulations for different designs without an engineer adjusting the settings. The Adjoint Design Framework is essentially an optimization process that couples with the flow solver; the name is derived from a mathematical construct called an ?adjoint equation.? Adjoint methods belong to a class of optimization problems called gradient-based methods. Gradient-based methods search and find optimal points quickly for ?well-behaved problems,? as opposed to gradient-free methods like simplex or genetic algorithms. Selecting an adjoint method provides one critical advantage: the time needed to compute the gradients (i.e. how will a small change in each variable impact the performance) is independent of the number of design variables. So now, instead of being limited to a dozen variables as we might have been with other methods, our engineers can control upwards of 120 simultaneously.

Again, the design of the engine inlet is also critical for meeting performance objectives. When the aircraft is cruising at supersonic speeds, the air that is entering the engine must decelerate to low subsonic speeds. In order to achieve that, the inlet needs to create strong shocks (these slow the air), but they also produce pressure losses. An optimal inlet design will slow down the airflow with minimal pressure losses. Inlet aerodynamics show significant non-linear variations, depending on the location of the shock, which makes it challenging for most optimizers to search. To get around the problems caused by such a non-linear design space, the engineers at Aerion have built out a surrogate model of the space using response surface methods (RSM). This model approximates the aerodynamic performance trends across the entire inlet design space using a subset of evaluations and allows for a much more effective search.

We?ve skimmed the surface on just a couple of ways that Aerion is innovating, bringing cutting edge design technologies to bear on difficult engineering challenges, but the culture of innovation is prevalent throughout our organization. Building a supersonic airplane is certainly an impressive feat no matter the circumstance, but our goals of doing it sustainably are ambitious, and even audacious. Sustainable global mobility will help bring people closer by enabling travel, saving time, and preserving the environment. It’s going to take a full-court press to rise to the challenge – lucky for us we brought our A game.

Amelia Earhart was the first female to fly solo across the Atlantic. Emma Lilian Todd was the first female airplane designer. Raymonde de Laroche was the first female to earn her pilot’s license.

These are just a few of the many women who have made their mark in aviation. Their inspiring stories have made an undeniable impact on the industry as a whole and future females pursuing a career in aviation.

In honor of National Women’s History Month, we’re reflecting on the women who have paved the way before us and give thanks to the wonderful women in our lives who inspire us to do and be more. Here’s what a few of our employees had to say about the women they look up to:

“I’ve always been inspired by Serena Williams’ resilient attitude. She has spent her life working to become the world’s best tennis player – overcoming criticism like being booed at on the court and constantly being compared to her sister Venus. The more obstacles people put in front of her, the harder she tries to prove them wrong. And prove them wrong she does. To this day, people find anything to try to bring her down including criticizing the outfits she wears on the court and she responds in the most Serena way possible, by winning. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. I aspire to be as resilient as Serena and not let anyone’s opinion or attempts to bring me to down get in the way of my success and goals.”

– Kelsey Ausherman, Technical Support Specialist

“My mom has always been my inspiration. She was the first in her family to receive any level of formal education and actually ended up becoming an educator herself. She worked hard while raising three kids through several economic crises in Brazil. She has shown my siblings and me how dedication and perseverance are the key to success. To me, she is a real-life role model!”

– Fernanda Aline Matta de Paiva, Flight Controls Principal Engineer

“Early in my career, I hired an intern (Kathy) – she was probably a dozen years my senior but just finishing her master’s degree and starting her career, whereas I started working full-time six years earlier. Theoretically, I was mentoring her – but in actuality, she was really my mentor. Her path from high school student to the woman I knew had been incredibly challenging – life had really thrown some curveballs at her – but her wisdom and grace were truly striking and inspirational. Her example and advice over the years I worked with her genuinely changed my life – I am a better person and professional for having known her.”

– Lisa Holden, Chief Human Resources Officer

“Risk-taking, inspiring women such as Moya Lear who were willing to take charge and continue to attempt to make dreams a reality give women in aviation someone to look up to and guide the way. Moya had 6 honorary doctoral degrees and devoted so much time to the philanthropy center right here in Reno, NV. I choose to look up to her because of her fascinating history and drive for moving the aviation industry forward. A quote of hers that I continuously turn to is: ‘It’s never finished. There’s always the next objective, the next goal.’”

– Sarah Glendon, HR Generalist

“One woman who has inspired me throughout my life is my paternal grandmother, who passed away in 2019 at the age of 102.5. My grandma was tough. No nonsense. No drama. She lived her life with integrity and dignity, regardless of the people who were or weren’t in her life. Subconsciously, I’ve picked up on that. I’ve had the power to pull myself together and press on. With her arranged marriage as contrast, I no longer take the freedom of choice for granted and have learned to follow my intuition and make my own choices. Through her story, I understand the emotional fortitude that served as her superpower. All those lessons learned have enabled me to kick a** as a single mom who works an intense, corporate job yet still has the heart to love those around me. My grandmother’s legacy lives on in all I do.”

– Kristi Finney, Chief of Staff

“One female that inspires me is my current boss at Aerion Supersonic, Cathy Rice. She is the role model of a strong leader. She is an outstanding boss that has strong soft skills including emotional intelligence and heightened communication skills. Not only is she an industry leader in business management and shown in her 35+ years of experience as SVP of Business Management, she genuinely cares about her company, the mission and the people. She mentors through example and provides career opportunities and growth. I feel very fortunate and humble to be part of a great team and company.

Michelle Obama is another woman that inspires me. She is an inspiration that shows a woman can excel and do anything that she puts her mind to. At a young age, she demonstrated determination. She was told in high school that she probably wouldn’t be “Princeton material” but she didn’t let the opinion of people define who she is. She ended up not only graduating from Princeton, but also Harvard, and became an intellectual property lawyer and a devoted mother. She demonstrates the perfect balance of family and work. To me, that is truly inspiring.”

– Yiwen Schriefer, Director of Business Management

We’re proud to have so many strong, brilliant, and compassionate women working throughout our company at every level. But it doesn’t stop here, the aviation industry still has a ways to go, and we’re committed to doing our part to prioritize diversity in our industry.

Aerion is now closer to soaring at supersonic speeds. With new suppliers, we are teaming up to make the first privately built supersonic jet, the AS2. GE, Spirit, Aernnova, GKN, Safran, and Potez have records of excellence in aerospace design and manufacturing, and we’re proud to be pioneering the future of supersonic flight with them. Most of these suppliers, and others not mentioned here, are working side-by-side with the Aerion staff at our headquarters in Reno, NV on a daily basis. We have built a world-class multi-organization team that is rapidly maturing the AS2 from design concept to reality.

We’ve tapped Spirit Aerosystems to handle the forward fuselage, the pressurized section of the aircraft that includes the cabin, cockpit, galley, and lavatories. The AS2’s cruising altitude will be significantly higher than your average commercial aircraft, but the passengers will experience a “cabin altitude” that is quite low. A low cabin altitude makes the ride more comfortable for everyone on board, but it comes with the added difficulty of designing a fuselage that can withstand much higher pressures.

Aernnovawill support the design and development of the mid-fuselage, which is the section of the plane that ties together the forward fuselage, with the empennage, wing, and landing gear. One of the challenges that Aernnova faces is integrating the several complex systems and fuel tanks throughout this section. The cross-sectional area changes dramatically throughout the mid-fuselage to help compensate for the added volume of the wing & nacelles – this is a design phenomenon called “area-ruling” and is used on many supersonic aircraft to reduce wave drag.

GKN will design the empennage, electrical wiring, and interconnection systems (EWIS) for the AS2. These components will keep the aircraft stable while flying at supersonic speeds. The EWIS system is the central nervous system of the airplane, that includes all of the wires, ensuring that all the tech in the airplane can communicate. GKN has been working onsite at Aerion for over a year. Using their proprietary industry-leading tool suite GKN will ensure that there is sufficient space for wire separations, preventing safety or technical issues from arising in the future.

Continuing with the mid-fuselage, Safran is supplying two critical elements of the AS2 design. Safran Landing Systems is designing the complete braking and landing gear systems. There are few other full-service landing gear companies, and Safran understands the attention to detail needed to integrate the landing gear. Safran Nacelles are also on board to support the design of the nacelles for the AS2. Safran’s nacelle design will enable a quieter engine at takeoff and landing, allowing the AS2 to satisfy stringent Stage-5 noise requirements.

Coming back towards the front of the aircraft – it’s the often overlooked but critical details that can tell a mature aircraft program from one that is in conceptual design only. Potez, a smaller firm with world-class aerospace structures capabilities, will support the design and manufacturing of the AS2 doors. The importance of the doors can’t be overstated – the doors will be safe, functional, aesthetically pleasing, and will mate perfectly with the complex shape of our airplane.

Each supplier is bringing its own unique perspective, expertise, and history to the AS2, and GE is no exception. GE brings more world-renowned engineering to our program by supplying the electrical power system for the AS2 – a perfect complement to the propulsive power of GE’s Affinity turbofan engines. The system includes electrical power generation, distribution, conversion, and energy storage. In addition to powering all of the critical aircraft systems necessary for a safe flight, the electrical power system will also enable next generation technologies for passenger convenience and comfort.

Assembling a team of suppliers capable of designing robust systems and structures is step one, but bringing all of those companies together in a collaborative space for seamless integration is critical. David Ambrose, our airframe integration lead on the AS2 said it best: “The technical diversity of our team is what makes Aerion truly exceptional and unprecedented in the industry and is the driving force behind our innovation. We all come from different companies, projects, and even countries, so we all learn from each other’s vast experience. This also extends to our world-class partners and suppliers.” said David. “I have the opportunity to work with some of the best engineers and suppliers in the world. It’s like being in a super-advanced STEM event every day where we’re all teaching each other and learning from each other and a great product emerges as a result.”

Together with our global suppliers, we’re creating a faster, more connected future, significantly reducing the time and friction of travel. By surrounding ourselves with experienced professionals and innovative thinkers who come from different parts of the world, we will make history.