Need to get from Dubai to London in five hours? In eight years, you should be able to!
Little has changed over the past few decades in terms of commuter aircraft speeds. The 747 has been in service for decades and cruises at 550 miles per hour, while the most recent 787 Dreamliner cruises at 567 miles per hour. That’s a miniscule increase of 17 miles per hour over a 44 year time frame. Those who wanted a quicker commute time in the past had the option of the Concorde – which was basically limited to East Coast US to London or Paris destinations. This was a terrific airplane that was able to make the transatlantic flight in less than three and a half hours, but it has long since been retired and no plans exist to bring it back into service. Up until now, there hasn’t been much of a focus on rejuvenating executive class, high-speed jets.
Aerion Corporation has been developing and testing the beginnings of a new supersonic business jet (SBJ) that aims to significantly reduce travel times for the contemporary business traveler. The SBJ will have a crew of two and a capacity for 8-12 occupants, depending on configuration. With a full six foot center height and more than six feet of cabin width, the SBJ promises to be comfortable as well as quick! Luxurious interior appointments and a flexible cabin with galley and lavatory will make for a truly world class airplane.
The SBJ will use the latest in laminar flow aerodynamics to achieve maximum speed
The key to the SBJ’s higher top speed (estimated to be about Mach 1.6, or 1,300+ miles per hour) is an extremely efficient and aerodynamic fuselage design that maximizes what is known as natural laminar flow (NLF). This phenomenon creates a smoother and less turbulent signature when an airplane passes through the air and the resultant drag reduction permits higher speeds and more efficient operation. By combining powerful engines with a finely crafted fuselage, the SBJ will be able to travel over land at Mach .99 (limited by existing sonic boom regulations) and over water or unrestricted airspace at Mach 1.6. This can cut travel time down by approximately 50% over traditional means of travel. For the business owner or head of state that measures the value of an object in terms of how much time it saves, the SBJ might be worth its weight in gold.
The intended owner will need to justify an $80 million price point versus more travel time
Aerion is well versed in the fundamentals of airflow and aerodynamic design, having been founded over 20 years ago by Robert Bass. Located in Reno, Nevada, Aerion has amassed fifty letters of intent for the new SBJ, and has collected $250,000 deposits on each unit. The estimated price per plane is in the neighborhood of $80 million US, pointing to the intended purchaser as either a large corporation, a well-heeled business person, or a head of state.