What does Aerion’s closure portend as to the future of SST ?

SST test future and analysis
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The apparent leader in SST development CLOSES

STATEMENT says FUNDS are the problem with Bass and Buffett behind it

AERION says Technical, Aeronautical, Certification & Environment not blocking

Sell Intellectual Property Rights ? 

 

Aerion has been one of, if  not the, leader in developing a commercial supersonic transport aircraft. Shockingly (see below), this innovator has announced that it is “shutting down.” Given its status as in the front of the pack, the WHYs for its closure should be assessed.

In contrast to this notice, it is clear that the news and political statements have been replete with optimism about Commercial Supersonic Transports:

  • Congress in a recent FAA Reauthorization ORDERED that “the agency 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
    • In their infinite wisdom the House and the Senate directed that aviation noise be reduced post haste. Not exactly a zero sum game, but it is curious how Congress can expect the FAA to introduce a plane known for its sonic boom, while lowering aircraft noise impact.
  • Two years ago, the FAA initiated an NPRM to establish noise standards for SST flight testing.
    • Kansas has established a corridor for these experimental aircraft to demonstrate airworthiness and noise compatibility.Kansas SST test site

tortuous regulatory processes

  • President Biden recently talked about harnessing the country’s R&D capabilities and develop, among other things, hypersonic passenger airliners …At any rate, the comments indicated general support for supersonic travel as part of a pep talk to stoke national pride”

President Biden SST in infrastructure package

 

The circumstances appear to be really positive about the future of Aerion’s innovation.

 

With that background the demise of Aerion is curious, even inexplicable . First, the company, less than six months ago, started to build its future development complex–  a $300 million, two-million-sq-ft campus at Florida’s Orlando Melbourne International Airport.

Aerion proposed HDQ at Melbourne

 

 

 

 

 

The company’s statement on its action did not shed any light on the reasons for the failure:

  1. “The AS2 supersonic business jet program meets all market, technical, regulatory and sustainability requirements, and the market for a new supersonic segment of general aviation has been validated with $11.2 billion in sales backlog for the AS2,” a company statement released Friday afternoon said.

{translation—the market is there and proof of the airplane for FAA and EPA is there}

 

  1. “However, 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,” the statement said.

“Given these conditions, the Aerion Corporation is now taking the appropriate steps in consideration of this ongoing financial environment,” the statement said.

The Aerial statements make statements about 1. Financial issues and 2. Technical, aeronautical, environmental issues.

 

  1. Financial issues

As one news report aptly put it Texas Billionaire’s Supersonic-Jet Dream Dies as Aerion Folds. The Lone Star reference is to Robert Bass, who according to Forbes, is the world’s 55th richest billionaire worth $5,000,000,000 as of May 24.

Another major player in this venture, Warren Buffett, (Berkshire Hathaway owns NetJets and that carrier has ordered 20 AS2’s), is #6 on the Forbes list and  has a published net worth of $96,000,000,000.

bass and buffett

With these backers, it is difficult to comprehend how Aerion has been “challenged” to meet “scheduled and necessary large new capital requirements.”

  1. Technical, aeronautical, environmental issues.

The Aerion Technical team is extraordinarily talented; so, its position that its  jet “program meets all market, technical, regulatory and sustainability requirements” seems to be irrefutable. Add to that credibility the participation of Boeing’s aeronautical, engineering, manufacturing, certification and environmental expertise—it is difficult to question the quoted endorsement.aerion team

Those intellectual assets must have immense value and the long list of competitors would likely have interest in buying that intellectual capital to their venture.

If such a transaction does not come to fruition, one might wonder if indeed there are barriers to the development of an SST that can reach the Mach numbers advertised, can meet the certification standards and pass the strenuous environmental tests.

In any event, innovation will benefit from learning what obstacle(s) stopped Aerion.

 

sound barrier graphic


 

 

 

 


Aerion Supersonic Shuts Down – What Does This Mean For Future Development?

Aerion Closure

Just a few months ago, Aerion Supersonic shared details on its ambitious plans for a 50-seat, Mach 4+ commercial airliner. However, in a turn of events, the Nevada-based company is now shutting down.

High hopes

 

AS3TM

There had already been a huge buzz surrounding the Aerion AS2, which was set to operate at a top speed of Mach 1.4 (1,000 mph) and reach a range of 4,200 NM (7,778 km). Also, while maintaining the fastest subsonic cruise of any jet in history at Mach 0.95, the plane was billed to also serve with sustainability in mind. Overall, it was designed to run on 100% sustainable aviation fuels to deliver a net carbon reduction of 80%.

…267.6KAS2 drawing

 

“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. Since our company’s formation our team has created disruptive new innovations plus leading-edge technologies and intellectual property […] However, 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.” – Aerion Supersonic via statement.

Industry impact

Aerion has been one of the key names when it comes to those leading the new wave of supersonic travel. So, this update would be leaving certain jet operators frustrated. Notably, Flexjet placed an order for 20 AS2s back in 2015, and NetJets signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for 20 units just this year.FlexJets, NetJets, Boeing Next

Even Boeing invested in Aerion. [1]The manufacturing powerhouse was providing manufacturing, flight test resources, and engineering for the AS2 ahead of the planned 2023 first flight.

So, with Aerion shutting down, what does this mean for the second coming of supersonic commercial flight? There are several other contenders across the industry making considerable progress in this field. So, it’s still highly likely that passengers will be flying at supersonic speeds by the time the 2030s are underway.

For instance, Boom Supersonic has been making a name for itself with its development of Overture. The Denver-based startup recently received a crucial investment from American Express. This progress is keeping the firm on course for its 2029 targets for commercial flights.

Additionally, Exosonic recently told Simple Flying of its ambitions of minimizing noise and lowering prices with its supersonic program. Furthermore, the company is working on a supersonic presidential jet.[2]

aerion- boom, exosonic, spike

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plenty of prospects

Virgin Galactic also shared that it is entering the supersonic space, signing an MOU with Rolls-Royce. Meanwhile, Russia is also looking to compete. Even Australia and Ukraine recently joined the fold, with Cosmovision Global Corporation announcing its intentions earlier this month.

So, while a major player is pulling out, there are still plenty of runners in the race for supersonic travel. There will undoubtedly be at least one or two viable options on the market by the time this decade is over.

sst sound barrier picture, noise graphic, NASA measurement

 

 

 

[1] “Boeing is leading a mobility transformation that will safely and efficiently connect the world faster than ever before,” said Steve Nordlund, vice president and general manager of Boeing NeXt. “This is a strategic and disciplined leading-edge investment in further maturing supersonic technology. 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.”

[2] Not mentioned in this article but cited ion others is  Spike Aerospace, Inc. It is  leading a global collaboration of world-class aerospace firms in development of the world’s first quiet supersonic jet, the Spike S-512. Spike’s world-class team of senior engineers, executives and advisors have backgrounds from top global aerospace companies including Gulfstream, Boeing, Eclipse, Icon, Embraer, Honeywell and others. Leading aerospace firms, including Greenpoint Technologies, Siemens, MAYA, BRPH, Aernnova, and Quartus Engineering are providing their expertise in aircraft design, engineering, manufacturing and testing. Spike Aerospace is based in Boston, MA.

 



 

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