Aerion Orders Rolling In

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The airplane is at least six years from entry into service and few specifics exist, and the program is not officially "launched," but Aerion has already taken deposited orders worth $1.5 billion for its proposed supersonic business jet. The company is offering 40 early delivery positions at a price of $80 million in 2007 dollars. A $250,000 initial deposit is required.

The Aerion SSBJ concept was unveiled in 2004, and since then wind tunnel and other testing has confirmed to the company that it can build an airplane that cruises at 1.15 Mach over land without producing a sonic boom that reaches the ground. Over open water cruise speed is expected to be 1.6 Mach. U.S. regulations forbid supersonic flight over the country at this time, but the Aerion is expected to cruise just under Mach 1 with efficiency comparable to conventional large business jets. The Aerion cabin is designed to offer stand-up headroom with eight to 12 passenger seats. Range goals are in excess of 4,000 nm.

Aerion is in discussion with aerospace manufacturers that would actually build the SSBJ and expects to reach an agreement this year. The key to Aerion's success is said to be a proprietary natural laminar-flow wing that delivers never before achieved low drag and high efficiency at both supersonic and subsonic speeds.