Aerion sheds light on supersonic business jet

Aerion will work with Airbus Group Inc. to design and develop the AS2, an eight- to 12-person supersonic business jet that will be made primarily with carbon fiber composites.

Aerion Corp. (Reno, NV, US) on Nov. 16 provided additional details about its plans to develop the AS2, a supersonic business jet that it will manufacture with the help of Airbus.

The AS2 is 51.8m long, with a wingspan of 18.6m and height of 6.7m. It is designed to carry eight to 12 passengers. Maximum speed is 1.5 Mach; maximum cruise altitude is 15,545m. Aerion says the AS2 "airframe will be constructed largely of carbon fiber composite structures, with titanium used for leading edges and some internal structures." The plane is scheduled for a 2021 first flight, followed by entry into service in 2023. 

Aerion and North America-based Airbus Group Inc. will jointly develop the AS2. Support from Airbus Group operations in North America will include engineering, procurement and supply chain management, logistics planning, program management, and government relations. These new resources will augment engineering support from Airbus Defence and Space (AIRBUS D&S) in Spain. 

Where the Aerion will be assembled and tested is not yet known. Aerion CEO Doug Nichols says, “Aerion has begun a formal search for a U.S. manufacturing location. We’re looking for a state-of-the art campus of more than 100 acres on a major airport with a minimum 9,000-ft runway, and other special geophysical requirements.” Among them will be a location within 200 nautical miles of a supersonic flight test area, most likely one offshore.

Aerion will evaluate numerous factors including: airport suitability; road and rail infrastructure; proximity to a deep-water port for shipped structures and equipment; local aerospace workforce; state and local regulations; quality of life; and regional educational institutions. The company expects to announce the location of the assembly site in the first half of 2016 upon formal launch of the AS2 program, and break ground in 2018.