The Aerion AS2 is a supersonic business jet product being forwarded by American billionaire businessman and philanthropist Robert Bass under the Aerion Corporation brand label (founded in 2004 out of Reno, Nevada). The aircraft follows the proven supersonic concept put forth decades ago by the famous Aerospatiale-BAC "Concorde" supersonic performer to which the AS2 project intends to produce a more viable end-product for civil airspace operations. The aircraft initially appeared under the name of "SBJ" rather appropriately signifying "Supersonic Business Jet" and was to be powered by two turbofan engines while it has since been redesigned with a three-engined configuration. The product remains in development as of June 2014 with flight testing tentatively scheduled for sometime in 2019 resulting in an actual operational service year sometime after 2020.
Retired in 2003, the original Concord was born of innovations found in the 1960s. Its then-groundbreaking capabilities never truly ushered in the expected era of supersonic passenger flight for the average flyer and proved a rather expensive product to operate in large numbers while be prohibited from flying through many airspaces of the world due to its violent sonic booms produced. The Aerion AS2 concept looks to achieved a "boom-less" Mach 1.0+ approach to help mitigate the threat of a ground-based sonic boom over densely populated areas. Several approaches to the design of the aircraft are seen as sonic-boom reducers - including its more compact size when compared to the Concorde and modern advanced avionics to track potential booms. The AS2 is seen as a aircraft that can reach speeds of up to Mach 1.2 without producing a telltale boom signature heard on the ground giving it the necessary leeway to traverse the airspaces over many parts of the world today. The phenomena is recognized as "boom cutoff" where sonic booms at speeds just above Mach 1.0 do not reach the ground, diffused at about 5,000 feet into a subsonic pressure wave.
Outwardly, the AS2 will carry a slim design form with its cockpit conventionally set aft of a long nose cone assembly (unlike the Concorde, the nose of the AS2 will not tilt to provide improved ground viewing). The wings will be short in span, unswept, of an all-modern laminar flow contour and low-mounted for the specific purposes of supersonic flight - indeed the wings are officially titled as "Supersonic Natural Laminar Flow" (SNLF). The passenger cabin will make up a portion of the tubular fuselage, tapering to the empennage at rear to which a single vertical tail fin will be affixed. The tail planes will be high-mounted on the aircraft in profile though low-mounted on the vertical tail fin itself. The undercarriage is to be expectedly retractable and of a tricycle arrangement, utilizing a single-wheeled nose leg and a pair of twin-wheeled main legs. The engines will be externally mounted at the rear of the design for maximum airflow efficiency as well as required noise control on approaches and during take-off. One engine will straddle each side of the aft fuselage with the final engine installed at the base of the tail fin a rather classic "tri-jet" configuration. Overall dimensions include a length of 160 feet, a wingspan of 70 feet and a height of 26 feet. Construction of the aircraft will include use of carbon fibers (fuselage, wings, engine nacelles, tail), aluminum, steel and corrosion-resistant titanium (wing leading edges).
Internally, the aircraft will be crewed by two pilots and feature seating for up to eleven passengers depending on seat configuration. The cabin space will measure some 30 feet long, comparable to the competing Gulfstream G450 line. A galley will be integral to the comfort of the passengers as will two lavatories, one found forward and one located aft of the passenger cabin. A dining/conference table will be found aft as well. The cabin itself will sport amenities expected from the business jet crowd with a full 6.2 foot ceiling height and 7.3 feet wall-to-wall width in a single aisle arrangement. Rounded rectangle windows will provide ample viewing to the outside as well as natural lighting on daytime flights. Four of the passenger seats will be configurable to sleepers for long-range ventures. The baggage stores will be of a walk-in design. The cockpit will feature an all-modern Fly-By-Wire (FBW) approach to control seen in many aircraft today, including military types as well as full-color Multi-Function Displays (MFDs).
Estimated performance specifications include a maximum speed of Mach 1.6 with a long-range cruising speed of Mach 1.4 with full-fuel range expected to be 5,000 nautical miles. The AS2 performance will be such that a typical fourteen hour flight is reduced to just nine hours, meaning round-trip, cross-Atlantic journeys will be accomplished in a single business day (for example, Chicago-to-Frankfurt becomes a 5 hour jaunt, the journey reaching 51,000 feet in altitude and operating through transonic, supersonic and subsonic envelopes to achieve the desired results). Fuel efficiency will be improved over that of the preceding Concorde by allowing the AS2 to burn its fuel at the same rate whether in subsonic or supersonic flight envelopes. Maximum Take-Off Weight is listed at 115,000lb with an empty weight of 49,800 feet.
Currently U.S. federal aviation laws prohibit the use of supersonic flight in air travel. However, restrictions are somewhat relaxed internationally and the technological success that the AS2 may find may, in turn, relax U.S. overland travel restrictions in the coming decade.
Flight over water is not restricted, allowing the AS2 to operate at "full throttle".
In October of 2014, it was announced that jet airliner maker Airbus of France has joined the AS2 project, bringing much industry expertise and marketing smarts to the burgeoning program. In turn, Airbus will receive access to the valuable work Aerion has completed on the AS2's SNLF wings.
2015 - FlexJet has confirmed an order for 20 AS2 supersonic airliners.
May 2017 - Aerion has teamed with General Electric to study potential candidates for the tri-engine needs of the AS2 supersonic aircraft.
February 2019 - It has been announced that Boeing has invested in the Aerion supersonic transport program - a considerable boost for the promising project.
April 2020 - Aerion revealed a revised AS2 SBJ form featuring delta wing planform over the original laminar flow design as well as changes to the wing members (reduced span), engine nacelles, and tail section making for a shorter length design.
September 2020 - Wind tunnel testing on the AS2 form is set to begin, forming much of what will become the aerodynamic data to be used in the engineering phase of the supersonic passenger jet.
September 2020 - The AS2's Fly-by-Wire (FbW) system will be designed and developed by long-time aero-industry player BAe Systems as the supersonic program continues to inch ahead.
March 2021 - The AS2 project has netted an order for twenty aircraft from carrier NetJets.
May 2021 - On May 21st, 2021, it was announced that Aerion has stopped development on its AS2 supersonic airliner, citing issues with raising the needed funds to see the project through.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Used in roles serving the commercial aviation market, ferrying both passengers and goods over range.
Used in roles serving the business aviation market, primarily VIP and regional travel.
Used in the Very-Important-Person (VIP) passenger transport role, typically with above-average amenities and luxuries as standard.
Incorporates two or more engines, enhancing survivability and / or performance.
Mainplanes, or leading edges, features swept-back lines for enhanced high-speed performance and handling.
Can accelerate to higher speeds than average aircraft of its time.
Can reach and operate at higher altitudes than average aircraft of its time.
Ability to operate over ocean in addition to surviving the special rigors of the maritime environment.
Supports pressurization required at higher operating altitudes for crew survival.
Features partially- or wholly-enclosed crew workspaces.
Features retracting / retractable undercarriage to preserve aerodynamic efficiency.
144.4 ft (44.00 m)
78.7 ft (24.00 m)
26.2 ft (8.00 m)
49,802 lb (22,590 kg)
139,001 lb (63,050 kg)
+89,199 lb (+40,460 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Aerion AS2 / SBJ (Supersonic Business Jet) production variant)
monoplane / mid-mounted / swept-back
Design utilizes a single primary wing mainplane; this represent the most popular mainplane arrangement.
Mainplanes are mounted along the midway point of the sides of the fuselage.
The planform features wing sweep back along the leading edges of the mainplane, promoting higher operating speeds.
(Structural descriptors pertains to the base Aerion AS2 / SBJ (Supersonic Business Jet) production variant)
3 x General Electric turbofan engines developing around 19,500 lb of thrust each (estimated).
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