Monday, May 10, 2010

Supersonic Bizjets Still A Long Way Off

New products traditionally help stimulate the market, but a supersonic business jet will not be a contributor, at least not any time soon.
Aerion, the project being funded by financier Robert Bass, remains stalled, still in search of an established manufacturer to help fund, develop, certify and produce it. Unveiled in 2004, the concept aircraft is intended to bypass prohibitions to flying supersonic over the U.S. and many other countries by transiting those places at near Mach speeds, and accelerating to Mach 1.5 over the oceans and remote areas where permitted.
Backers claim they’ve received orders for 50 of the $80 million aircraft, priced in 2007 dollars, each backed by a $250,000 refundable deposit, but have been unsuccessful in enticing any OEM to become a partner in the “first mover” project. If and when that occurs, Aerion managers say it will take a minimum of 6.5 years and $3 billion to bring it to market.
Meanwhile, Gulfstream maintains a supersonic aircraft must have the flexibility to fly anywhere. It continues to conduct research in reducing the sonic boom to 70 PLdB (Perceived Loudness dB.), which it believes would be acceptable to most people and regulators, for withdrawing the current prohibition. And, says Pres Henne, Gulfstream’s senior vice president of programs, “We’re 90% there.”
The concept is appealing he said, noting, “Our people value time and value speed and are prepared to pay for it. That happens to be our market, so we sort of like that idea.”
However, he acknowledges the research funding and demonstration work required, along with the necessary political activity, put any practical supersonic aircraft well into the future – though possible within the next 20 years.

Aerion supersonic jet rendering: Aerion

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