The supersonic Concorde passenger jet had its last flight in November, 2003.
The Aerion supersonic businessjet could lead the re-emergence of supersonic commercial aviation. New technology will make the planes a lot more fuel efficient and there has been work to reduce the sonic booms.
The Aerion AS2 is a Mach 1.6 supersonic business jet under development by Aerion Corporation, the leader in commercial supersonic technology. The AS2 design is the product of more than a decade of research into enabling technologies to make supersonic flight efficient and practical. Key among them is the development of a supersonic natural laminar flow wing. It should be about twice as expensive as a Gulfstream business jet.
A supersonic natural laminar flow wing differs from earlier supersonic designs, such as the Concorde’s modified delta wing. It is relatively straight (low sweep), wide and very thin, allowing the wing to achieve laminar flow over as much as 90 percent of its surface. Laminar flow reduces skin friction drag, which can reduce overall airframe drag by as much as 20 percent, allowing for lower fuel consumption and longer range.
The AS2 will have a range of more than 5,450 statute miles (4,750 nautical miles), connecting cities such as London and Seattle or San Francisco and Tokyo nonstop. Over water, it will cruise at speeds between Mach 1.4 and 1.6—almost twice the speed of today’s fastest civil jets. In areas where supersonic speed is prohibited (mainly over the U.S.), the AS2 will cruise efficiently at speeds up to Mach 0.99, just under the speed of sound. In other populated areas, it can cruise at speeds up to Mach 1.2 without a sonic boom reaching the ground. The aircraft will seat up to 12 passengers.
The AS2 will be built largely of carbon fiber composite material for low weight, high strength and wing stiffness. While the shape of the AS2 is unusual compared to today’s subsonic aircraft, its systems and underlying technology are conventional by current standards, minimizing technological risk and easing the certification process.
Based on a series of worldwide studies with current owners of long-range jets, Aerion projects a market for at least 600 supersonic business aircraft over 20 years. The projected price of the AS2 is above $100 million in current dollars.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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