Aerion Sees 
Keen Interest in 
Supersonic Jet

DUBAI — Aerion Corporation, which seeks to be the first to market with a supersonic business jet, said on Saturday that nearly one-third of the $4 billion orders it had bagged for the aircraft was from customers in the Middle East, India and Pakistan.

By Issac John

Published: Sun 15 Nov 2009, 11:04 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 8:24 AM

Aerion, an engineering group formed in 2002 in Reno, Nevada, to reintroduce commercial supersonic flight, reiterated the company’s commitment to forging a partnership with one or more manufacturing partners.

“We are quite encouraged by our discussions with potential partners. The state of the economy has slowed their decision making progress, but it has not lessened interest in this program,” Aerion Vice-chairman Brian Barents said on the eve of the opening of Dubai Airshow, the region’s biggest display spectacular.

“We are also encouraged by continuing strong customer interest in the airplane, particularly in the Middle East,” said Barents. Aerion consistently found strong interest in supersonic transport here at the Dubai Airshow. “So we are here again to tell business jet operators that they will soon be able to embrace a faster future,” Barents said.

Aerion launched its formal marketing efforts at the 2007 Dubai Airshow where it began accepting letters of intent to purchase the $80 million Aerion supersonic business jet, each backed by a $250,000 refundable deposit.

Aerion today has approximately 50 letter of intents, or LoIs, representing a backlog of $4 billion. Nearly a quarter of orders are from customers in the Middle East, India and Pakistan. The remainder is distributed between Europe and the Americas, said Barents.

Aerion order book has held steady in spite of the global recession—an indicator of strong customer commitment to the program, said Barents. “We have barely begun to tap global demand for this aircraft,” he said. “The Middle East, India, Russia, China, other Asian countries and Australia will all be strong markets for the aircraft. We are entering a new era of maturing global trade relationships, and rapid transportation between regions will be essential.”

Explaining why Aerion expected to be first to market, Barents said while some companies “are committed to quiet supersonic designs requiring regulatory changes, others understand that Aerion technology offers the only practical path back to supersonic flight.”

“We are not waiting around for rules to change, which could be a very long wait; we are moving forward with proven technology,” he said. Only in the US are flights restricted to speeds below Mach 1.

Aerion Senior Advisor John Holding explained why Aerion represented the one feasible solution for reintroducing supersonic flight.

“Supersonic natural laminar flow, or SNLF—Aerion’s key enabling technology— is well proven at this point. There are no barriers to success. Technical risks are low, and the development of the jet is well within the capability of several manufacturers,” he noted.

Holding said Aerion jet would be compliant with Stage 4 regulations and the latest emissions standards. Its fuel consumption and emissions are far below any other proposed supersonic jet, making it the most environmentally responsible choice. It can operate from the same general aviation airports as long-range business jets do today and for a comparable operating cost.

“It is, therefore, clear to us and to the original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs, with whom we are in discussions that the Aerion jet is the only practical path to supersonic flight by the middle of the next decade,” he said.

Holding said Aerion required the participation of a large OEM skilled in bringing new aircraft to market. It is in discussions aimed at entering into a 9-12 month technical assessment phase, during which Aerion and its partner or partners will jointly study all aspects of taking Aerion’s aerodynamic design through a successful certification effort. Aerion expects that this phase will culminate with the launch of a five-year development and certification program.

“We’ve had the ability to fly supersonically for 60 per cent of the history of powered flight,” said Holding. “Now we have the opportunity to do it in a commercially feasible, environmentally responsible way. As the industry returns to financial stability and as optimism returns, we will see the Aerion program progress rapidly.”

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