Supersonic Business Jets: Who Will Get There First?

How would you like to trim three hours off the current commercial jet flight timing between Paris and Washington, D.C, or about 3 hours off the flight between New York and Sao Paolo? The Aerion AS2 and the Spike S-512 Supersonic Business Jets will help you get there faster than you imagine.

The question is: who will get there first?

Nevada-based aerospace firm Aerion announced that it’s teaming up with Airbus to create a supersonic jet that will fly at 1,217 MPH, faster than the speed of sound (about 768 MPH at sea level) and almost as fast as the now retired Concorde, which flew at 1,350 MPH. Regular commercial airlines typically fly from between 480 – 560 MPH.

“This is a major step forward for Aerion. It puts us solidly on track toward our objective of certifying the world’s first supersonic business jet in 2012,” said Aerion Chairman, Robert Bass.

The Aerion AS2 supersonic business jet will be made mostly from carbon fiber composite material and will use proprietary supersonic laminar flow technology that claims to reduce drag on wings and fuselage by 20 percent. As a result, it’s expected that the AS2 will not only be fast, but super-efficient as well.

However, Spike Aerospace claims that its S-512 supersonic business jet can fly at Mach 1.6 (1,220 MPH) and at a maximum speed of Mach 1.8 (1,370 MPH), enabling passengers to fly between New York and London in 3-4 hours instead of 6-7 hours, and between Los Angeles and Tokyo in 8 hours as opposed to 14-16 hours.

“The message from many of today’s long-range business jet operations is very clear: they want a supersonic jet sooner rather than later; a cabin comparable in comfort to today’s long-range jets; a range of 5,000m or better; and they are willing to pay more than $100 million for such an aircraft. That is the supersonic jet we are working to deliver,” said Aerion CEO, Doug Nichols.

With a 30-foot cabin in a two-lounge configuration, cabin dimensions widen from the entryway to the rear seating area where the cabin height is about 6.2 feet and cabin width is around 7.2 feet. When fully fueled, it’s expected that the AS2 will require a takeoff length of roughly 7.500 feet, though this is expected to drop to only 5,000 – 6,000 feet at takeoff weights below 100,000 lbs, while still maintaining trans-Atlantic and transcontinental US capability. This should allow the aircraft to operate from medium-size aviation hubs as when necessary.

For S-512, the supersonic business jet is designed with a length of 131 feet and a wingspan of 60 feet, while the cabin length, height and width are 40 feet, 6.2 feet and 6.2 feet. The basic operating weight is 38,000 lbs. with a maximum takeoff and landing weight of 84,000 lbs. At maximum payload, the aircraft is able to carry 6,000 lbs with 40,000 lbs of usable fuel.

While Aerion doesn’t mention much about the interior of the AS2, Spike Aerospace said that they “have completely redesigned aircraft interiors with its innovative and luxurious Multiplex Digital Cabin. A full-length screen offers passengers breathtaking panoramic views of the outside world, a movie or a starry night”.

“It seems unlikely to come from Boeing or Airbus, given that they seem to be focused on very incremental improvements to their planes as opposed to radical improvements. So it could come from a start-up,” said Vik Kachoria, President and CEO of Spike Aerospace. The supersonic business jet is expected to finish test flights by 2018, and the cost for every S-512 supersonic jet is about $60 – $80 million.

Aerion and Airbus better hurry up!

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