News about the new class of Business Jet.  The Supersonic Business Jet

Aerion Spike S-512 to introduce wrap around windows


The Aerion Spike S-152 supersonic business jet company blog describes one of the cabin features, a "thin display screen" that's embedded in the wall. Cameras mounted around the jet's exterior will power a panoramic view, which can also be swapped for other images or content that's more conductive to sleep, such as a solid dark color or a starry night scene. Removing the windows helps Spike trim the plane's weight while also reducing drag, enabling faster speeds and boosted fuel efficiency.  First flight is scheduled to take place in 2018.

Aerion prepares to go supersonic

Aerion Corporation has released details about its next round of supersonic test flights, as it finalises the design of the world’s first supersonic business jet (SBJ).

Aerion has designed the next test article that will fly in the centerline position under NASA’s F-15B aircraft. The last round of tests during the summer of 2010 reached Mach 2.0 and used an instrumented flat plate to map the high-speed flow field under the F-15B and validate computer modeling.

After analysing the resulting data, aerodynamic design work for the new test article began in late 2010, followed by mechanical design in mid-2011. Fabrication of the 40-inch vertical span by 80-inch chord device is now underway and will be complete by the end of May. A series of ground checks will be followed by one-hour supersonic test flights at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in June and/or July, pending aircraft availability.

The new test article will be more representative of the Aerion wing in order to evaluate supersonic boundary layer transition properties as they relate to manufacturing standards for surface quality and assembly tolerances, both crucial to future production of the SBJ.

Some Background on Aerion

Tracy, chief technology officer of Aerion Corp. and a director of the Reno-based company, says the company expects production to begin on the Aerion Supersonic Business Jet by 2016.

And the company has enough believers that 50 buyers have placed orders — each including a $250,000 deposit — and Aerion's backlog totals more than $4 billion.

Buyers include at least five Indian companies as well as a sheik in the United Arab Emirates who signed the first letter of intent to acquire one of the craft.

The draw: A business-sized aircraft that can fly from the East Coast of the United States to Asian destinations in a little over nine hours, an aircraft that could beat the morning sun across the Atlantic on flights from Paris to New York City.

“We are a disruptive technology,” says Tracy. “This will change aviation much as when we went from propellers to jets.”

But change, even disruptive change, comes slowly to the aircraft industry.

Aerion traces its roots to 1968 when Bill Lear, the creator of the first business jet, the Learjet, paid $1.3 million to buy the old Stead Air Force Base and set up shop to develop advanced business jets.

Among those fired up by Lear's vision was Tracy, who worked as chief engineer of LearAvia. (The company's design for a craft it called the LearStar 600 has been the basis of Bombardier's family of Challenger aircraft since the late 1970s.)

“This has been a passion of mine for a long time,” Tracy says.

The key technology in Aerion's Supersonic Business Jet is laminar flow, a design that dramatically reduces drag around an aircraft in flight and allows a supersonic craft to operate at competitive costs with traditional business jets.

While laminar flow design was well-known in applications such as re-entry vehicles for spacecraft, Tracy and the team at Aerion needed to conduct much of their research from scratch.

“There wasn't any test data available for wings the size we were looking at for supersonic speeds,” he says.

Tests in European and American facilities have confirmed that the laminar flow design works. Aerion researchers now are conducting propulsion integration tests in which they make sure that the Pratt & Whitney engines planned for the aircraft will work with the rest of the design.

That research moved into high speed in 2005 when Texas billionaire Robert Bass led a group of venture capitalists who staked the company. Bass is now chairman of the board of privately held Aerion.

The group led by Bass sees a market for about 300 supersonic business jets during the 15 years after the craft are introduced. The price tag is expected to be about $80 million per plane in 2008 dollars.

That makes a total market of about $24 billion for the first generation of aircraft, although Tracy envisions a family of supersonic business jets. Development costs of the plane were estimated a couple of years ago at between $1.2 billion and $1.4 billion.

While the plane is designed to cruise at more than 1,100 mph, Tracy says it would fly over land areas in much of the world at a hair below the speed of sound to prevent sonic booms.

While it conducts tests of the propulsion system, Aerion also is in talks with undisclosed aircraft companies that would build the craft. An established manufacturer, Tracy explains, has systems and equipment in place that would be prohibitively expensive for a company such as Aerion to duplicate.  

Not quite supersonic but impressive Gulfstream G650 Reaches Mach 0.995

Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. announced today that its ultra-long-range, ultra-large-cabin Gulfstream G650 recently reached Mach 0.995 as part of its 1,800-hour flight-test program.


The aircraft achieved this speed during flutter testing, which evaluates the aircraft’s damping responses following an input from an external test device. Flutter testing is performed at a variety of frequencies, speeds, altitudes, weights and centers of gravity.

For the initial series of flutter tests, the aircraft achieved clearance out to both its design dive speed (Vd) and design Mach dive speed (Md) at altitudes ranging from 10,000 feet to up to the aircraft’s maximum certified altitude of 51,000 feet.

Order book stands at $2 Billion for Aerion Corporation

Aerion Corporation is nearing a decision on an aerospace manufacturing partner to lead the development and production of its pioneering supersonic business jet design.

The next step is to carry out a pre-launch phase jointly with the manufacturer to confirm the Aerion SSBJ performance, costs and market, prior to formal launch in the third quarter of 2010. Thereafter a five-year program

is planned so that the Aerion SSBJ could be flying in 2013 and certified by late 2015.

The $80 million Aerion supersonic jet relies on a concept known as supersonic natural laminar flow to reduce airframe drag, thereby reducing engine power requirements and fuel consumption. The patented concept was developed by Dr. Richard Tracy, Aerion’s chief technology officer, and demonstrated in NASA flight tests and in transonic wind tunnel testing.

Industry moves toward a quieter supersonic business jet

Reductions in supersonic boom intensity could allow for overland operation of future supersonic civil aircraft, according to a panel of supersonic technology experts at a meeting held on March 1 in Palm Springs, Calif. The session was part of the UC Davis Aviation Noise & Air Quality Symposium.

Representatives from the FAA, NASA, Boeing, Gulfstream Aerospace and Lockheed Martin discussed the ways they are studying to reduce the intensity of the sonic boom. Supersonic Aerospace International CEO Michael Paulson, whose company is located in Las Vegas, was unable to attend the meeting. His company did coordinate some of the information with Lockheed Martin for its presentation, he said. Lockheed Martin has conducted research for Paulson’s company in the past.

Research in sonic boom mitigation “has demonstrated enough progress on reducing impact of sonic booms before they reach the ground for us to revisit this issue,” said Lourdes Maurice, FAA chief scientific and technical advisor for environment. She emphasized that no progress will be made in civil supersonic aircraft development without public involvement to define an “acceptable sonic boom requirement.” One of the goals of the panel session, she added, is “to raise public awareness on advances in supersonic technology, and for the FAA, NASA and industry to get feedback from interested persons.”

Aerion continues R&D on supersonic business jet

Aerion of Reno, Nev., today said it is proceeding with research in the development of its supersonic business jet while it continues discussions with potential manufacturing partners that would lead to a joint Aerion-OEM design study. Aerion’s hope is that this design study–essentially the nine- to 12-month proof-of-concept phase of the program–would result in a decision by the partners to proceed with full-scale development and production of the Aerion SSBJ.

According to a spokesman, the company does not plan to make an announcement about a partnering agreement this week at EBACE. However, Aerion vice chairman Brian Barents said, “We are confident we will reach an agreement with an OEM.

The challenges are many, but there is a desire on the part of all parties to make this happen. Meanwhile, Aerion plans to conduct a series of flight and wind-tunnel tests this year to set baseline configuration details (refining the shape of strakes, flaps, elevators, rudder and engine integration) and to assess the effects of wing-surface quality as a step toward setting production standards.

Gulfstream continues research on supersonic business jets

Gulfstream continues to perform research on a variety of advanced topics, including technologies required to build a supersonic business jet. For its subsonic line, the focus areas include synthetic and enhanced vision, advanced cabin systems, aircraft health and trend monitoring and advanced flight controls, including fly-by-light and fly-by-wireless.

For its supersonic efforts, sonic boom mitigation methods are among the highest priorities, says Lombardo. However, Gulfstream has saidunequivocally that it will not launch a supersonic business jet programme until there is consensus among aviation authorities globally as to what would be acceptable noise and pressure levels for over-land supersonic flight, a practice prohibited in the USA by Federal Aviation Administration rules.

The company says it has received queries from other manufacturers possibly interested in licensing the company's patented "quiet spike" technology thatdampens supersonic noise by extending a spike from the aircraft's nose during cruise. 

Quiet Spike

Quiet Spike is a collaborative program between Gulfstream Aerospace and NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center to investigate the suppression of sonic booms.

An eventual outcome of the project is to develop technology that may allow next generation supersonic transports to overfly populated areas at above Mach 1 without the high intensity of sonic boom that proved problematic for first generation supersonic transports such as Concorde (c.f. Operation Bongo). Gulfstream has a particular interest in resolving this problem because of its desire to build a supersonic business jet.

The boom caused by Concorde generated substantial public opposition in the United States and eventually in other countries around the world under routes the aircraft was supposed to fly, and made it impossible for Concorde to be a commercial success. The issue of sonic boom was also a significant factor in the eventual cancellation of the Boeing 2707. 

Shockwaves develop around aircraft as they near Mach 1. At ground level,these are perceived as a loud double boom or bang. Their intensity varies due to factors such as weather, refraction from different layers of atmospheric density, and size of the aircraft, but in general, from a supersonic aircraft of the size of a civilian airliner, the overpressure created at ground level is enough to at least rattle windows, or in more extreme instances, cause structural damage to buildings.