Boeing has entered the race to build the next generation of supersonic commercial aircraft, announcing a new partnership with Aerion. Though few details were given, the new agreement includes a "significant investment" by Boeing and will see the aerospace giant providing engineering, manufacturing and flight test facilities for the development of Aerion's AS2 supersonic business jet.
The aerospace field took a significant step backwards when the Concorde supersonic airliner retired from service in 2003. Since that time, no aircraft has appeared to replace it, but there have been significant technological developments over the decades since Concorde was built, as well as changes in attitudes toward supersonic flight that promise a new age of commercial faster-than-sound flight that will be more economical and environmentally friendly.
One significant player in the race to build the first Son of Concorde is the Reno, Nevada-based Aerion, which is developing a 12-passenger business jet that can fly at Mach 1.4 (1,038 mph, 1,671 km/h) using a GE Affinity engine, but with a significantly reduced sonic boom thanks to an advanced fuselage design. If things go according to schedule, the AS2 could fly by 2023 and enter service in 2025 to become the world's first supersonic business jet.
Until recently, Aerion was partnered with Lockheed Martin, which also provided technical support, but that alliance has been severed for undisclosed reasons.
"Boeing is leading a mobility transformation that will safely and efficiently connect the world faster than ever before," says Steve Nordlund, vice president and general manager of Boeing NeXt. "This is a strategic and disciplined leading-edge investment in further maturing supersonic technology. Through this partnership that combines Aerion's supersonic expertise with Boeing's global industrial scale and commercial aviation experience, we have the right team to build the future of sustainable supersonic flight."
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