Aerion SBJ: Supersonic Bizjet

The dream of the Aerion SBJ moves a little closer to reality.

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The Aerion SBJ, a Mach 1.6 business jet, has completed Phase One of its development program and the company is confi dent of its viability. A proprietary market survey of more than 1,100 "Global-class" operators confirmed a demand for 250 to 300 Aerion SBJs during the fi rst 10 years of production, according to Aerion. Since the announcement of the Aerion, there have been a number of changes to the design of the supersonic business jet. The modifications include elevating the cockpit fl oor, changing the windshield angle and altering the nose shape to ensure the airplane meets FAA requirements for pilot visibility. The nose gear has been moved farther aft reducing the turning radius to less than 75 feet for better maneuvering on ramps and taxiways. The horizontal tail has been changed from a T-tail confi guration to a low-mounted cruciform tail confi guration and the Aerion will use a fly-by-wire fl ight control system to reduce weight.

The Aerion SBJ's projected excellent sonic and subsonic efficiencies are credited to its natural laminar fl ow unswept wing. Power will be provided by a pair of Pratt & Whitney JT8D-219 engines derated to 19,600 pounds of thrust. The Aerion with a 90,000-pound maximum takeoff weight is projected to have a range of more than 4,000 miles, while cruising at either supersonic cruise speeds of 1.5 Mach or subsonic speeds of .95 Mach. According to Brian Barents, Aerion vice chairman, "The major questions about the technical feasibility ... have been answered and we are now able to present to potential partners a design that is well researched and quite achievable." From launch to certifi cation it is predicted to take fi ve years, but the official go-ahead is not expected until Aerion has successfully signed up risk sharing partners. Aerion's goal has been to keep the price of the SBJ under $80 million.