Aircraft

Supersonic passenger flight suffers setback as Aerion closes shop

Supersonic passenger flight su...
A render of Aerion's AS2 supersonic jet
A render of Aerion's AS2 supersonic jet
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A render of Aerion's AS2 supersonic jet
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A render of Aerion's AS2 supersonic jet

Aviation startup Aerion Supersonic is reportedly shutting down operations, ending ambitious plans to bring a supersonic business jet to market later this decade. According to Florida Today, the company has had a hard time funding the productions of its AS2 supersonic plane.

Aerion Supersonic sprung up soon after the Concorde supersonic airliner was retired from service in 2003, unveiling the first iteration of its supersonic business jet design a year later. Ten years after that, it revealed the redesigned AS2 concept with a top speed of Mach 1.4 and a slightly slower but far quieter "Boomless Cruise" autopilot mode, designed to prevent the sonic boom from reaching the ground.

The sudden shutdown comes just two months after the company revealed plans for a 50-passenger commercial airliner capable of traveling faster than speeds of Mach 4. Those fresh ambitions aside, the closure may come as a surprise given the money and resources seemingly at Aerion's disposal.

Founded by billionaire Robert Bass in 2004, the company went on to attract big name investors and partners in Lockheed Martin and more recently Boeing. It racked up more than US$10 billion in pre-sales of its $120 million AS2 business jet, and was in the midst of constructing a $300 million global headquarters in Melbourne, Florida. In any case, the burden of trying to bring a supersonic business jet to market appears to have overwhelmed the company's coffers.

"The AS2 supersonic business jet program meets all market, technical, regulatory and sustainability requirements, and the market for a new supersonic segment of general aviation has been validated with $11.2 billion in sales backlog for the AS2," reads the company statement, as reported by Florida Today. "However, in the current financial environment, it has proven hugely challenging to close on the scheduled and necessary large new capital requirements to finalize the transition of the AS2 into production. Given these conditions, the Aerion Corporation is now taking the appropriate steps in consideration of this ongoing financial environment."

Sources: Florida Today, CNBC

10 comments
10 comments
EJ222
I'm surprised the sales backlog was that big. Between stuff like Google Starline and environmental pressure, how much of the market is in *that* much of a hurry these days?
Chris Coles
It may take all aviation manufacturing as much as a decade to fully recover from the COVID farrago, and such investment may be stalled for the foreseeable future.
CarolynFarstrider
Good. Fossil fuel-driven planes that carry few passengers but create climate chaos for billions have no place in the future of this planet!
aki009
If I were an investor in a company with no cash flow and an unproven product that's mostly slideware, I'd probably question the company's priorities if it were spending on a $300 million corporate headquarters somewhere. Those are not good optics when it comes to selling to the bean counters right now.
paul314
Somehow, none of that sales backlog could be converted to hard cash. My guess is that it was all conditional not just on certification but also on other things that may not have been happening. We'll find out later (maybe) how much real money got set on fire during this endeavor, and how much was just promises.
clay
Welcome to the new boss....same as the old boss.

This happens with every new "radical" aircraft endeavor.

You will see this same thing with 97/100 VTOL/taxi efforts... and 99.5% of all eVTOL endeavors.

Hopefully some pragmatic yet inspiring survivors will emerge.
clay
100% guaranteed way to make a millionaire:
A. Start as a billionaire
B. Attempt to design & produce a new aircraft (company)
Nelson Hyde Chick
Why do rich people need to fly at the speed of sound? They don't, and I am glad Aerion failed, just hope the others trying to use-up resources so the rich can fly faster than sound also fail!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
WB
$300 million HQ to build... no wonder they closed down. Whenever companies waste money like that they all tank.
windykites
Would this plane have left a vapour(ware) trail? (lol)

Carolyn, I think you are exaggerating. Perhaps you think that humans have no place on this planet.

Strange the wings are not swept back, like Concorde. Same wings as a Starfighter, and the Bell X1A