Much of the skepticism about whether the Aerion SST 12-seat business jet might ever fly was probably squashed when Boeing NeXt said this week it was making a significant investment into the Reno, Nevada, aircraft builder. Boeing NeXt’s portfolio includes autonomous air vehicles and passenger-carrying hypersonic aircraft. Founded in 2003 to develop new, more efficient aerodynamic technologies for supersonic aircraft, Aerion Supersonic introduced its AS2 12-passenger business jet design in 2014. The company unveiled the AS2's GE Affinity engine design in 2018.
Boeing will provide engineering, manufacturing and flight test resources, as well as strategic vertical content, to bring Aerion's AS2 supersonic business jet to market. The AS2 is designed to fly at speeds up to Mach 1.4 or approximately 1,000 miles per hour. With the ability to fly up to 70 percent faster than today's business jets, the AS2 will save approximately three hours on a transatlantic flight while meeting environmental performance requirements. The aircraft is slated for first flight in 2023.
Tom Vice, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Aerion said, "The AS2 is the launch point for the future of regulatory-compliant and efficient supersonic flight. Together with Boeing, we're creating a faster, more connected future with tremendous possibilities for enhancing humanity's productivity and potential." Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
On a side note, Aerion reported a partnership deal with Lockheed in 2017, as well as a hookup with Airbus in December 2014. Neither appears to have created the value either partner had hoped for.