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Boeing partners with Aerion for supersonic plane by 2023

February 7, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email


Supersonic commercial travel, not offered since Concorde made its last flight 16 years ago, took a leap forward yesterday with the announcement that Boeing has partnered with Aerion, a next-generation supersonic aircraft pioneer, to develop a 1600 km/h passenger plane to fly in 2023.

As part of the agreement, Boeing made a significant investment in Aerion (which is based in Reno, Nevada) “to accelerate technology development and aircraft design and unlock supersonic air travel for new markets”. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Boeing will provide engineering, manufacturing and flight test resources, as well as strategic vertical content, to bring Aerion’s AS2 supersonic business jet to market.

The AS2 is designed to fly at speeds up to Mach 1.4 or about 1600 km/h. With the ability to fly up to 70% faster than today’s business jets, the AS2 will save approximately three hours on a transatlantic flight while meeting environmental performance requirements. The aircraft is slated for first flight in 2023.

Last year, Aerion and GE Aviation revealed the initial design of the first supersonic engine purpose-built for business jets, designed to power the AS2 and usher the world into a new era of efficient supersonic flight.

Above: AS2 Interior

Aerion entered into collaborative agreements with GE Aviation and Lockheed Martin in 2017. The three companies were joined in 2018 by Honeywell for advanced cockpit systems. With Boeing now aboard, the project is very much a goer.

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

“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.”

Founded in 2003 to develop new, more efficient aerodynamic technologies for supersonic aircraft, Aerion introduced its AS2 12-passenger business jet design in 2014. The company unveiled the AS2’s GE Affinity engine design in 2018.

AS2 in flight (graphic impression)

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

“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.”

Boeing NeXt works with industry partners and regulatory agencies to lead the responsible introduction of a new mobility ecosystem. The division’s portfolio includes prototyping activities and programs that will shape the future of urban, regional and global mobility. These programs include autonomous air vehicles and passenger-carrying hypersonic aircraft.

Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company, the leading manufacturer of commercial airplanes and defense, space and security systems, and a major provider of government and commercial aerospace services. America’s top manufacturing exporter, Boeing supports airlines and US and allied government customers in more than 150 countries.

Coming at you! The Aerion AS2


Meanwhile, other similar projects are also in the works.

  • Though it flies no more, Concorde (top speed 2179 km/h) was faster than any of the new contenders, including the AS2.
  • Last year, NASA awarded Lockheed Martin Skunk Works a contract to design, build and flight-test a full-scale experimental aircraft, known as an X-plane, to make supersonic passenger air travel a reality. The project involves reducing the sonic boom, produced by passing through the sound barrier, from an ear-splitting bang to a soft sound like the closing of a car door. “Skunk Works” is the official pseudonym for Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs (ADP), formerly called Lockheed Advanced Development Projects.
  • Another challenger is backed by Japan Airlines (JAL) and developed by US aerospace developer Boom Supersonic. The Boom Supersonic project aims to bring commercial supersonic travel to passengers at fares about the same as today’s business class tickets.

Written by Peter Needham

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