Aerion and GE announce New Technology
Congress says to help SST
Congress also pushes Lower Noise Limits
GE and Aerion reveal the engine that’ll power the supersonic [SST] AS2 to Mach 1.4 when it flies in 2023.
“It’s easy to be skeptical of aviation start-ups that promise to achieve great things with new technology. History is littered with wreckage (actual, virtual, and metaphorical) from personal jets, flying cars, jetpacks, and plenty more. But Aerion Supersonic, a start-up with a dream to bring back supersonic flight for civilian travelers, has been different from the start—well-funded by deep-pocket investors and tapping into the leading edge of industry expertise. In 2015, Aerion partnered with GE—one of the world’s top manufacturers of civilian and military jet engines—to develop an all-new supersonic engine. This week, the companies debuted their design, at the annual meeting of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), in Orlando. The super-powerful new Affinity engine will drive Aerion’s AS2 jet to Mach 1.4 (about 1,000 mph). It’s the first all-new supersonic engine in more than 50 years, and the first ever designed specifically for a business jet. Aerion says the engine will power the AS2 for its first flight, in 2023.
Officials from GE say the turbofan engine makes optimal use of GE’s commercial airline technology, with billions of hours of reliable flight time. It can operate efficiently at altitudes up to 60,000 feet, and will meet current noise requirements and emissions standards. The company also plans to maximize the use of advanced additive design and manufacturing techniques to optimize the engine’s weight and performance.
Aerion is collaborating with industry leaders Honeywell and Lockheed Martin on the cockpit computers and aircraft design. The 12-passenger AS2 will be ready for deliveries in 2025, the company says. It will cut three hours from transatlantic flights and five hours across the Pacific. Aerion CEO Tom Vice says the AS2 is just the beginning; the company plans to move on to bigger and faster designs, for both corporate jets and commercial passenger flight.
Aviation history has been a progression of faster and faster flight. Real reduction of time in the air from departure from point A to arrival at point B has been at a standstill for a few years. The demand for more efficient flying APPEARS to exist in the marketplace, but how inelastic are the consumers to air fares above the current fare level.
The Concorde’s primary economic deficiency was its inability to earn revenues adequately above operating costs. The initial Aerion aircraft will offer only a 12 passenger payload. What will an operator be able to charge for the Mach 1.4 and the 3/5 fewer hours trans Atlantic/Pacific times?
Aside from those operational concerns, the wreckage (actual, virtual and metaphorical) is more likely to rear its ugly head from the environmental sphere. Even accepting GE’s confidence that its engine will meet the existing standards, the growing Quiet Skies Caucus is attacking those existing noise and air limitations. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (Subtitle D) mandates a number of measures which are intended to reduce the impact of aircraft on communities.
However, the same Subtitle D (actually the next SEC. 181) instructs the FAA to expedite standards for the SST (“assume global leadership”) and to report to Congress by 2019 on the agency’s progress and plan.
The employees assigned to these tasks will have to have the wisdom of Solomon. Congress has given instructions which are hard to reconcile—reduce noise and facilitate the entry of SSTs, which is, at best, perceived as s noisier and dirtier aircraft, to the airways.
Without any help from Congress, NASA is conducting a study in Galveston, TX to measure the citizens’ sensitivity (see below) to the Sonic Boom!!!
SEC. 181. FAA LEADERSHIP ON CIVIL SUPERSONIC AIRCRAFT. (excerpted)
(a) In General.—The Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall exercise leadership in the creation of Federal and international policies, regulations, and standards relating to the certification and safe and efficient operation of civil supersonic aircraft.
(b) Exercise Of Leadership.—In carrying out subsection (a), the Administrator shall—
(B) issues related to standards and regulations for the type certification and safe operation of civil supersonic aircraft, including noise certification, including—
(i) the operational differences between subsonic aircraft and supersonic aircraft;
(ii) costs and benefits associated with landing and takeoff noise requirements for civil supersonic aircraft, including impacts on aircraft emissions;
(iii) public and economic benefits of the operation of civil supersonic aircraft and associated aerospace industry activity; and
(iv) challenges relating to ensuring that standards and regulations aimed at relieving and protecting the public health and welfare from aircraft noise and sonic booms are economically reasonable, technologically practicable, and appropriate for civil supersonic aircraft; and
(C) other issues identified by the Administrator or the aerospace industry that must be addressed to enable the safe commercial deployment and safe and efficient operation of civil supersonic aircraft.
(c) International Leadership.—The Administrator, in the appropriate international forums, shall take actions that—
(d) Report To Congress.—Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report detailing—
(1) the Administrator’s actions to exercise leadership in the creation of Federal and international policies, regulations, and standards relating to the certification and safe and efficient operation of civil supersonic aircraft;
(2) planned, proposed, and anticipated actions to update or modify existing policies and regulations related to civil supersonic aircraft, including those identified as a result of industry consultation and feedback; and
(3) a timeline for any actions to be taken to update or modify existing policies and regulations related to civil supersonic aircraft.
(e) Long-Term Regulatory REFORM. —
- NOISE STANDARDS. —Not later than March 31, 2020, the Administrator shall issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to revise part 36 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, to include supersonic aircraft in the applicability of such part. The proposed rule shall include necessary definitions, noise standards for landing and takeoff, and noise test requirements that would apply to a civil supersonic aircraft.
(2) SPECIAL FLIGHT AUTHORIZATIONS. —Not later than December 31, 2019, the Administrator shall issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to revise appendix B of part 91 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, to modernize the application process for a person applying to operate a civil aircraft at supersonic speeds for the purposes stated in that rule.
(f) Near-Term Certification Of Supersonic Civil Aircraft.—
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