The supersonic-jet maker Aerion recently announced that the flight-service provider Flexjet has placed a firm order for 20 examples of the Aerion AS2 supersonic jet—for which the company began taking orders last year—making Flexjet the first fleet operator for the plane, the first publically available supersonic jet since commercial supersonic travel ended in 2003.
Each jet is priced at $120 million, for a total order potential of $2.4 billion. Aerion says the AS2 will carry 8 to 12 passengers in a 30-foot-long cabin at speeds as fast as Mach 1.5 (990 mph). With a range of up to 5,466 miles, the AS2 cuts transatlantic travel time by 3 hours and shortens trans-Pacific routes by 6 hours or more.
Flexjet chairman Kenn Ricci called the airplane a “potential game changer for business travel.” Flexjet and Aerion will work together to design a custom, premium cabin interior for the Flexjet fleet. Aerion says for busy international travelers, all that extra speed quickly adds up to more productive days and even weeks over the course of a year. For example, a typical long-range business jet that would log about 250,000 miles in a year would fly for about 500 hours, while the same miles could be covered in the AS2 in about 300 hours. The difference for travelers is the equivalent of 25 8-hour workdays.
Aerion also announced that its partnership with Airbus Group has grown, and the company is now looking for a site to build a manufacturing facility. Airbus will expand the resources it is contributing to the program, which include engineering, logistics planning, and management support. “The farther we proceed along the development path with Aerion, the greater our enthusiasm for this program and the deeper our commitment,” says Allan McArtor, chairman and CEO of Airbus Group. “Under our new agreement, our two companies are working as one, to bring Aerion’s supersonic AS2 to the business-jet market.” The first flight is expected for 2021, with first deliveries of the jet expected for 2023. (aerionsupersonic.com; flexjet.com)