December 1, 2005
Aerion has completed the first phase of development of its supersonic business jet (SBJ). First announced at last year's NBAA in Las Vegas, the design of the aircraft has changed considerably to ensure that it remains a viable project.
The striking T-tail design has been replaced with a more conventional low-mounted cruciform tail, and the shape of the wings and fuselage have been refined. Maximum takeoff weight is expected to remain at or below 90,000 pounds.
Following first flights (which are expected in the next decade) the company believes that there is a market of between 250 to 350 aircraft in the first 10 years of production - figures Aerion states are 'well within the limits' to justify the programme.
"We are on track for making supersonic travel a reality in the next decade," commented chairman Robert Bass. "As we move into discussions with potential partners, the test results to date give us great confidence that the Aerion SBJ is an achievable dream."
Aerion confirmed that the aircraft will feature a fly-by-wire control system, which may reduce pilot workloads and and improve performance.
"Fly-by-wire technology employ-ing mild stability augmentation allows us to tune handling qualities over a wide range of operating speeds," said chief technology officer Richard Tracy.
Said vice chairman Brian Barents: "The major questions about the technical feasibility of this objective have been answered and we are now able to present to potential partners a design that is well-researched and quite achievable."
According to Aerion's projected performance data for the SBJ, the aircraft should reach a maximum cruise speed of Mach 1.6 and a no-boom supersonic cruise of more than Mach 1.1. Maximum range is expected to exceed 4,000nm.