Aerion: Creating a Faster Future
THE PATH TO A SUPERSONIC RENAISSANCE
The crucial work of developing and patenting SNLF technology began in the 1990s and was conducted by a predecessor company, ASSET Group (Affordable Supersonic Executive Transport), led by Dr. Richard R. Tracy, an expert in hypersonic and supersonic design.
In 1999 and 2000, ASSET performed supersonic test flights in collaboration with NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center (formerly NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center) confirming predicted levels of supersonic natural laminar flow—the enabling technology for a new generation of efficient supersonic aircraft.
Recognizing the potential of the SNLF concept, an investor group led by Robert M. Bass formed Aerion in 2002 to acquire ASSET and its team with the aim of commercializing the company’s supersonic technology.
Since that time, the company has amassed numerous patents and the world’s largest knowledge base of SNLF-based supersonic transport technology. It has conducted several additional flight tests in conjunction with NASA, confirming and refining SNLF concepts.
It has worked with the University of Washington Aeronautical Lab, the European Transonic Wind Tunnel and other leading international research organizations to optimize the design of a supersonic jet.
In conjunction with a team of Stanford University aerodynamicists, Aerion developed and refined computer design tools for the analysis of transonic and supersonic airflows and the aerodynamic optimization of a supersonic jet. In 2012, it acquired Palo Alto-based Desktop Aero, to better integrate its operations with the Reno engineering office, and also to offer its unique design tools to the aerospace industry.
Aerion introduced its Aerion Supersonic Business Jet (SBJ) to the aviation community in 2004 and opened its order book for this twin-engine design in 2007, almost instantly acquiring 50 orders backed by refundable deposits.
The recession of 2008 slowed the company’s discussions with potential manufacturing partners for this jet. However, a robust R&D effort continued apace during that time, resulting in the 2014 announcement of the Aerion AS2, a larger, trijet aircraft employing SNLF technology. The AS2 evolved from extensive market research with potential customers for a larger, longer-range supersonic jet.
Also in 2014, Aerion announced a technology collaboration with Airbus Group, with the European manufacturer providing technical and certification support on the AS2 program.
Aerion has set a target of certifying the AS2 in 2021 and placing it into service in 2023.
AERION CORPORATION is an aeronautical engineering organization headquartered in Reno, Nevada and dedicated to commercializing its proprietary supersonic technology.
Since its founding in 2002, Aerion has invested more than $100 million in R&D, much of it in conjunction with NASA and other prominent aerospace research organizations, to develop concepts for a family of efficient supersonic jets. Over that time, it has developed, flown and proven supersonic natural laminar flow airfoils that reduce wing friction drag by as much as 80 percent, and overall airframe drag by as much as 20 percent.
These efforts have culminated in the Mach 1.5 AS2 business jet, capable of crossing the Atlantic or Pacific nearly twice as fast as today’s subsonic jets.