MIAMI – Reno, Nevada-based Aerion Corporation, known for developing a 10-passenger supersonic jet, suspended all operations on May 21. The company had been developing a 10-passenger supersonic jet to cut transatlantic flights by three hours using “boomless cruise” technology to negate the sonic boom.
Via a press release, the company, founded by Robert Bass of Fort Worth, alleged lack of funding to develop a group of supersonic aircraft, though the company said the first member of the family, the Mach 1.2 AS2 jet, has a backlog of US$11.2bn.
However, Aerion states that “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.”
Hopes and Disappointments
Aerion broke ground on a US$300m, two-million-square-foot headquarters at Florida’s Orlando Melbourne International Airport less than six months ago. Also, the firm recently outlined AS2’s finalized supplier partnerships, which include Honeywell, Collins Aerospace, and Spirit AeroSystems. In addition, Aerios tasked GE Aviation, to manufacture an engine for AS2 and future members.
Companies such as Flexjet and NetJets have placed considerable orders and letters of intent with the supersonic developer. “Flexjet ordered its AS2’s from Aerion Supersonic in 2015 and the company has been a supporter of the program since then,” said Kenn Ricci, principal at Flexjet parent Directional Aviation.
“We were particularly impressed with the recent design changes and innovations generated by [Aerion chairman, president, and CEO] Tom Vice and his current team. While we are disappointed to hear from the company that they are ceasing operations, we understand the vast investment required by such programs to bring them to fruition and the inherent risks involved.”
Unknown Future for Aerion
Aerion expected to start manufacturing the AS2 in 2023 and plan AS2’s maiden flight in the current decade. In the meantime, it revealed proposals for the bigger, near-hypersonic AS3 airliner in March. Moreover, it announced strategic partnerships with NASA upon these innovations.
Beyond that, Aerion didn’t say anything about its potential plans and future of the AS family of supersonic jets.
“The Aerion Corporation has assembled a world-class team of employees and partners, and we are very proud of our collective efforts to realize a shared vision of revolutionizing global mobility with sustainable supersonic flight,” the statement said. “Since our company’s formation, our team has created disruptive new innovations plus leading-edge technologies and intellectual property.”
Featured image: The AS2 jet. Image: Aerion