In the world of aerospace engineering the race to build the first new civilian supersonic aircraft is certainly heating up. With several major players currently working on supersonic passenger jets, Aerion and Lockheed Martin are targeting those for whom even first class commercial air travel is substandard. The pair has just announced a partnership to develop the world's first supersonic business jet.

Aerion has been chugging away developing its AS2 supersonic business jet for several years now, first collaborating with Airbus on the aerodynamics and structural design before working with GE Aviation on the development of a supersonic engine. This latest announcement is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Lockheed Martin to work together on all the future phases of development on the supersonic business jet from engineering to production.

"Following our initial review of Aerion's aerodynamic technology, our conclusion is that the Aerion AS2 concept warrants the further investment of our time and resources," says Orlando Carvalho, Executive Vice President for Lockheed Martin. "We are committed to remaining on the cutting edge of aerospace technology and are excited to examine the contribution we might make to working with Aerion on making aviation history."

Aerion has been subtly improving its supersonic jet engine design over the years after announcing a new three-engine configuration back in 2014. The latest design pulls the two outboard engines forward, under the wings, while leaving the third engine in the tail.

Aerion currently estimates the AS2 will be ready for its first flight by 2023 but several other companies are racing to be the first supersonic player in the new millennium. Earlier this year, Spike Aerospace took to the skies with a flight test of an unmanned SX-1.2 prototype demonstrator that is a subscale version of its planned S-512 supersonic passenger plane. The successful tests come ahead of a projected flight date for a full-scale S-512 in 2021.

NASA is also working on its own designs for a a supersonic passenger plane, which is also aiming for first flight tests in 2021, with Lockheed Martin again helping with the engineering and design challenges.

Lockheed Martin's skill and experience with supersonic engineering seems to be a strong validation of Aerion's designs. The company is known for its supersonic combat aircraft so if any company has the know-how to move the technology into a civil or commercial application then it is Lockheed Martin.

The next few years promise to be exciting for fans of supersonic aviation.

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