Reno, Nevada-based company, Aerion Corp would have reasons to be happy with the response that India Inc has given to its supersonic business jet (SSBJ) programme. The company's Zurich, Switzerland based distributor, ExecuJet, has announced that it has already taken at least five orders from Indian businesses.
According to Peter Smales, executive director, ExecuJet, the company is expecting at least three more orders from Indian businesses over the next three months, which would take total orders to eight. Focusing on India as one of the most important markets in global aviation, ExecuJet is looking forward to setting up a joint venture here with one of the Indian partners, Smales said.
An announcement to this effect is likely over the next three to four weeks.
The Aerion SSBJ
Aerion began taking orders for the SSBJ at the November 2007 Dubai Air Show.
In 2005 the company had said that the new jet could enter service in less than six years. It also said that two ground-test vehicles and three flying prototypes would be built and that service entry could come as early as 2011.
At the 2005 Paris Air Show Aerion said that a sophisticated market study had shown potential sales of 220 to 260 jets over a ten-year period. Production over a 20-year life, it said, could exceed 500 units. It also said that 40 to 50 per cent of orders would come from fractional ownership companies.
Aerion has said that its design philosophy is to utilize demonstrated technologies and to minimize complexity.
- A patented supersonic natural laminar flow technology on the wing, which reduces drag by around 20 per cent unlike a delta wing. The Supersonic Business Jet wing has a sharp leading edge, and a thin, modified bi-convex airfoil.
- Design for low boom signatures
- Wings made from carbon fibre composites (except titanium leading edge) for the required level of stiffness of the very thin profile
- Fuselage in conventional aluminium alloy construction
- JT8D-219 engine meeting Stag IV nose requirements
- Fly-by-wire control system
The Aerion SSBJ remains stable in the subsonic condition as well and has its top speed capped at Mach 1.6, with no hard thrust noise complaint engines.
Aerion expects to finalise its OEM partner by 2008-end. In 2009, it would conduct a pre-launch validation study and with the freezing of the design the launch programme will be complete.
The first flight is expected sometime in 2012, with the jet being pressed into service by 2014. However, it is possible that the aircraft may finally be delivered in 2016.
Texan billionaire Robert Bass has backed the Aerion venture.
In India the Aerion may cut travel time between Mumbai and Delhi to just 30 minutes, the Mumbai-Singapore journey to three hours, less than half the current flight time, and Dubai-London to just five hours.
The aircraft, currently priced at $80 million (Rs320 crore), will seat eight to 12 passengers in stand-up comfort.