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Boeing is investing in supersonic jet developer Aerion and providing engineering, manufacturing and flight-test resources for the company.
Aerion is targeting late 2023 for the first transatlantic test flight of a 12-seat AS2 supersonic business jet. The AS2 is being designed to fly Mach 1.4, or approximately 1,000 mph.
“This is a strategic and disciplined leading-edge investment in further maturing supersonic technology,” said Steve Nordlund, vice president and general manager of the Boeing Next research and development division. “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.”
The investment marks a significant shift for Boeing, which previously had been hesitant to move into civil supersonic development because of questions about environmental acceptability and economic viability. The Aerion partnership follows legislation from Congress last fall mandating that the FAA propose regulations that would allow for overland supersonic flights by 2020. Such flights have long been prohibited due to the disturbances that sonic booms would cause to neighborhoods in the flight path.
However, NASA, along with Aerion and competitors Boom Technology and Spike Aerospace, are working on quiet-boom aircraft designs to abate that issue.
Aerion previously partnered with Airbus on development of its AS2 private jet, but that 2014 agreement terminated in 2017, Aerion spokesman Jeff Miller said.
Miller added that while Aerion is focusing its initial effort on a supersonic business jet, it could eventually move into commercial aircraft development.
Boom has made the development of a commercial supersonic aircraft its sole focus. Spike Aerospace is focusing first on developing a private jet but larger derivative jet designs are under consideration.
No commercial supersonic aircraft has flown since the final Concorde flight in 2003.