Aerion, the company exploring design and production of a supersonic business jet, announced at the NBAA convention that a series of flight tests in collaboration with NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center have marked the latest milestone in the company's preliminary engineering activities for its first supersonic business jet.
A total of five data test flights were conducted aboard a NASA F-15B in July and August 2010. The data collected during the flights, which achieved top speeds of Mark 2.0, is being analyzed by comparing the static pressures recorded at 60 points on the flat plate at varying speeds and altitudes with those predicted by aircraft computer models, including the test pylon and flat plate test article. Engine inlet parameters in the model are adjustable to take into account the measured pressures during the F-15B tests.
The next series of tests will be of a test article designed to maximize the extent of supersonic laminar flow, confirmation of its robustness under realistic condition and cross flow pressure gradients.
According to Dr. Richard Tracy, Aerion's chief technology officer, "Future tests will evaluate supersonic boundary layer transition properties as they relate to manufacturing standards for surface quality and assembly tolerances, both crucial to future production of Aerion's supersonic business jet."
The Aerion SBJ is designed to carry 8 to 12 passengers at high subsonic as well as supersonic speeds. According to the company, it has received some 50 letters of intent with deposits for the $80 million airplane. If ongoing discussions with manufacturers of business aviation aircraft are successful, aircraft deliveries could begin five to six years following the formation of a joint venture.