Aerion’s supersonic plans end with a whimper rather than a boom

May 24, 2021
The Aerion AS2 . Image: Aerion.

Supersonic jet contender Aerion Corp is folding after failing  to secure funding for its ambitious business aircraft.

The Nevada-based company, which had been backed by Boeing,  confirmed on Friday that it was abandoning plans to build a business jet that could fly faster than the speed of sound. It had previously put back the proposed launch date.

“In the current financial environment, it has proven hugely challenging to close on the scheduled and necessary large capital requirements,’’ the company said in a statement.

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“Aerion Corporation is now taking the appropriate steps in consideration of this ongoing financial environment.”

Aerion said earlier this year that its expected its AS2 supersonic jet, which planned to use a patented “boomless technology” and fly at Mach 1.4, to fly by 2024.

GE Aviation was slated to supply the engines and the company had also worked in the past with Lockheed Martin and Airbus on the project.

It had estimated it would cost $US4 billion to develop the AS2 and boasted about a $US11.2 backlog at about $US120 million per jet. This included a 20-jet deal with Berkshire Hathaway’s NetJets.

Despite the decision to abandon the project, Aerion said it had created disruptive technologies and intellectual property while validating the market for supersonic travel.

It said the AS2 had met all market, technical, regulatory and sustainability requirements.

Boeing was initially an enthusiastic backer of Aerion but its support was pared back after the Boeing 737 MAX crisis and then the global COVID-19 pandemic plunged it into its worst-ever financial crisis.

The reported last year that Boeing and Sprit Aerosystems, another partner, had all but disbanded teams working on the AS2.

“While we are disappointed Aerion could not secure additional funding to continue their work, we remain committed to working with innovative and creative partners who, like Aerion, continue to push limits on groundbreaking technology,” the US manufacturer told Bloomberg in a statement.

Aerion was not the only manufacturer developing a supersonic aircraft: Denver-based Boom Supersonic is developing Mach 2.2 plane called Overture with a planned passenger capacity of 65-88 people.

It said recently it hopes to introduce the aircraft by 2030.

airports supersonic FAA
Booms proposed supersonic airliner. Image: Boom

NASA is also working on quiet supersonic technology with an experimental aircraft called the X-59.

The X-59 is testing technology that could reduce a sonic boom to the equivalent of car door closing and allow aircraft to fly supersonic over land.

A rendering of the X-plane on the ground at Palmdale. Image: NASA.