2019 Was a Big Year for Aerion and We’re Excited for What’s Next
By Aerion Supersonic on Jan 06, 2020
5 min read
January is an excellent time of year to reflect. With the new year (and new decade) starting and – in some parts of the world – cooler air giving way to snowy days – it’s the perfect time to evaluate where we are and where we want to go next. In the past year, several developments have transformed Aerion from a company designing a concept to a company closing in on a near-future reality. In aerospace, we know that there are five things you need in order to build a great company and a revolutionary new aircraft: 1) an experienced team, 2) a commitment to the environment, 3) strong investment partners, 4) a new supersonic jet engine, and 5) world-class industrial partners. We have made significant progress on all five of these critical elements in the past year.
1) An experienced team
This past year, we announced new partnerships with Boeing and GE that bring a wealth of talent and expertise to the team. There are now over 300 people globally working on the AS2, a testament to the advanced nature of the program. Boeing is also bringing its industrial support into the mix, to accelerate technological development and aircraft design, and unlock supersonic air travel for new markets.
Leading this global effort is a growing team of world-class engineers at Aerion. We have nearly tripled in size over the past 12 months, including some major hires. We brought on Chief Sustainability Officer Gene Holloway, who previously spent nearly 20 years at Lockheed Martin as a program manager. We’ve welcomed Dick Johnson as vice president and chief systems engineer, who spent nearly 30 years at Gulfstream Aerospace in engineering management. This year, we brought on Rachael Kubly-Ormond as director of operations, who previously spent 15+ years at Northrop Grumman in project management and Cathy Rice as vice president of business management, who previously spent 35+ years in business operations at Northrop Grumman. We also welcomed Scott Kalister as vice president of worldwide support and logistics, who previously spent 16 years in customer support at Embraer.
And, at the beginning of December, we welcomed the acclaimed Tim Fagan as director of industrial design. He will lead the AS2’s interior design team. We look forward to having him as a member of our team, bringing extensive experience in product development from some of the most advanced business jets on the market today.
2) A commitment to the environment
This year, we bolstered our vision for sustainability. It is our responsibility as an industry to do everything we can to combat climate change. Being a steward of our planet is deeply ingrained in our corporate ethos, and Aerion is quickly becoming the industry thought leader in sustainable innovation. We’ve committed to carbon neutral operations for every AS2, from its first flight until it’s last. Led by our chief sustainability officer, we are preparing a 2020 environmental summit, bringing together leaders in aviation, regulatory, fuels, and environmentalism. Aerion will continue to lead the way in revolutionizing global mobility, building the next generation of global air transportation and helping solve the challenges of sustainable travel.
3) Strong investment partners
Boeing announced in February that it would back our shared vision of mobility by making a significant investment in Aerion. Along with continued investment from our long-time investor, Robert Bass, we have the funding required to launch the first-ever privately financed supersonic aircraft. We’re also now strategically aligned with the world’s biggest planemaker and share a vision for the future of urban, regional, and global mobility.
4) A new supersonic jet engine
Late last year, GE Aviation engineers unveiled a new family of supersonic jet engines: Affinity. The folks at GE are experts at building engines for fighter jets and commercial aircraft. So, they combined that expertise to create an engine that will operate as high as 60,000 feet and meet rigorous noise and emissions standards. In short, the Affinity engine will make both supersonic flight over water, as well as subsonic flight over land, possible and efficient, while meeting current regulations.
5) World-class industrial partners
We are pulling together top-notch suppliers that will help us assemble the AS2. In December, we announced the selection of Aernnova to design and develop the mid-fuselage for the AS2. We then announced the selection of GKN Aerospace as a global design and manufacturing partner. GKN Aerospace will design the empennage as well as the electrical wiring and interconnection systems (EWIS) for the AS2. Design activities have already started onsite at Aerion in Reno, Nevada and at GKN Aerospace’s engineering centers in the Netherlands and Romania.
We recently tapped GE Aviation as our Electrical Power System supplier: They will design and develop the electrical power system for the AS2, including electrical power generation, distribution, conversion, and energy storage.
Soon after, we announced our agreement with the international high-technology group, Safran. Two Safran subsidiaries joined the project to support the AS2. Safran Landing Systems will design the braking and landing gear systems, including extension/retraction, monitoring, and steering systems and Safran Nacelles will design the AS2 nacelles, including the engine inlets, fan cowl doors, and the thrust reverser, in France. Rounding out 2019, we also announced selecting Potez Aéronautique, world-class manufacturer of complex aerostructure assemblies, to design the doors of the AS2.
By joining forces, these companies will bring over a century of aerospace experience to support the preliminary design of the first supersonic business jet. We are excited to be working with such excellent industry leaders as we get the AS2 off the ground.
As we look ahead to the future, we’re excited to grow even faster, hire more talented and innovative people, announce crucial design developments, and finally make sustainable supersonic travel a reality. Check back here for more updates and developments as they happen.