London: Aerion Corporation announced on Tuesday that it has received commitments for at least 20 of its $80 million supersonic business jets (SSBJ) since it started signing letters of intent with prospective customers last month.
According to Aerion, the letters of intent come from 20 different clients in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North America. Operators recently committing themselves to the programme most recently include Pakistan-based executive charter firm Princely Jets and an undisclosed customer from India.
In spite of these encouraging sales figures, Aerion vice chairman Brian Barents said it would take at least until the end of next year to conclude a production agreement with one of several possible OEM partners.
The company had previously indicated that it might reach this stage by the middle of next year, but insists that this will not compromise the rest of its projected timetable, which calls for a programme launch in the second quarter of 2009, first flight in the second quarter of 2012 and service entry by the end of 2014.
The Aerion SSBJ is a concept for a supersonic business jet that would allow practical non-stop travel from Europe to North America and back within one business day. Development costs are expected to range from $1.2 to $1.4 billion with the aircraft itself being developed for a target price tag of $80 million (in 2007 dollars).
Entry into service is expected to be 2014.
The plane has a wing and tail shape arrangement that is similar to the F-104 Starfighter, a fighter aircraft of the 1960-70s period.