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A New Era: Sustainable Supersonic Flight

In conversation with Aerion Supersonic CEO Tom Vice about the new AS2 Supersonic Business Jet

The new Aerion AS2 Supersonic Business Jet just might be the future of sustainable, supersonic aviation if all goes as planned, according to Aerion CEO Tom Vice. After recently introducing the aeroplane’s final design last July, the 45.2m-long jet has already begun wind tunnel testing, and, with manufacturing set to begin in 2023 and initial fights in 2025, it seems like a new era of eco-luxury flying is soon on the horizon. To mark the finalisation of the flight design, Centurion Magazine caught up with Aerion’s CEO to talk about what this announcement means for aviation and how you can sign up for your flight now.


CM: Can you explain what you meant when you said in a press conference in July this year, “We are not only re-defining speed but also the luxury travel experience?”


TV: I appreciate the question, because in redefining speed we are determined to also look forward in elite luxury through a new design – one focused on sustainability, with the addition of an interior customised around the needs of each of our owners. We want to make sure that the designs and the materials that we use are not only of the highest craftsmanship but also sustainable.


Aerion is really a brand in private aviation. Another thing that we believe is important for customers is a far better dining experience – a real dining experience, with wine stored like in a fine dining restaurant. We are also working on a cabin that is very quiet, with a [reduced] noise level so you can watch a video with your family or have a conference with your colleagues. It should feel as if you are in your private household. We also need to ensure that the quality of the air is the highest/cleanest possible.


Furthermore, we [must] talk about high connectivity.


When we are talking high connectivity, are we talking about the new collaboration with Honeywell or do you mean something else?


Well, we teamed with Honeywell for a revolutionary flight deck, but we also teamed with Honeywell for the next generation of satellite devices. Today, obviously, the aeroplane’s connectivity is not always great, so we are working with companies that will be introducing a new satellite system for 2022 and 2025. We are very interested in what the global connectivity will be like in 2027, and that will go in our jet. The clients will then be incredibly connected, globally connected – you can stream 8k videos in the aeroplane, wherever cruising. So, for our customers, whether they are at home, on their yacht or in their car, they are connected all the time. And it won’t be any different in our aeroplane.


Can you describe how it feels to travel at a top speed of 1.5 Mach for passengers? Will it be comfortable? We know how it felt in the Concord, will it be more comfortable with the new systems and developments?


We absolutely believe that it‘ll feel much better. When you are in the AS2, you don’t have a sense of the speed. You are watching the Mach reader that is showing how fast you are travelling. When you are in the cabin, it indicates how fast you have gone so far. Again, there is no sense of noise in the cabin.


Also, when you compare it to the Concorde, the Concorde was very fast, but the seats were very small.


Again, you don’t feel the speed, you just watch the systems to see how fast you fly?


Yes, when you are in the AS2, travelling at supersonic speed, like when I first travelled supersonic in a military aeroplane, I had the same fear that something was going to happen – noise, shaking, something – but, in fact, it doesn’t. So, when you are in the AS2 travelling a thousand miles per hour, you know that your destination is arriving fast, you don’t spend time thinking about anything other than the very luxurious experience – the cabin is very big. We also offer a new lighting system to keep your mood up, and, [because of it], you will not feel jetlag when flying from one part of the world to the other.


We are very excited about all this. Whatever your habits at home – when you wake up in the morning, check television, news, heating, lighting – the aeroplane will do exactly the same.


Would you say it is the “completion of a lifestyle?” The clients have houses, numerous houses around the world, or their yacht they can easily visit with the supersonic jet, travelling from Europe to the USA, to Asia without any problems. It feels home, wherever they are, and offers more connectivity.


Exactly. Moreover, the aeroplane and the yacht will know each other’s IP address. Of course, all assets and systems inside the plane will be secured and cyber protected. This is clear. The data is connected – connected in a way we know they are safe, and your family is safe. That’s the most important.


Can you also speak about this revolutionary wing concept? Why and what were the major developments? What is the advantage?


The older wing design that you may recall was a very low swing, and we changed it to a very powerful delta wing. We changed the design because this wing allows us a much higher performance, and we created an aircraft with a much lower noise because the wing allowed us to reduce the overall drag on the aeroplane, which, in turn, reduced the emissions. Plus, we get gains in lower noise, higher performance and a longer range, so it really was the right approach that we took. And I think the aeroplane has really turned out to be a great looking aircraft.


Does it need a certain length of runway to fly in? Once it is in operation, where do you see this jet being able to go to? The Concorde couldn’t land at most airports, it needed a specific authorisation. Can you explain your cooperation with Jetex, and the 50 terminals that are planned?


We designed the aeroplane to go in and out at almost any FBO or any airport, so it is not restricted to fly worldwide. The aeroplane has a take-off/landing distance of 7,500 feet (2,300m), so the aeroplane isn’t restricted FBO wise, like the Concorde was. And the Concorde was very, very loud. The noise level during take-off was incredible. For the AS2 we meet the international noise level restrictions. That was an engineering challenge. Our relationship with Jetex, which we are really excited about, is part of our overall strategy for Aerion ConnectTM. We really think about how to build out a point of destination and build out a luxury ecosystem. And so, we want not only the experience that customers have inside of the craft, but we also want the customers to have an incredible experience in FBO.


The noise level down, no restrictions, it can land anywhere, what about the carbon neutral path?


Absolutely, the only restriction that we have is the runway. We provide 1,700 feet (520m) for the bough of the aeroplane, as most do, and the weight of the aircraft (approximately 140,000 pounds), so again, as long as the airport has accepted the noise level dealt, we can fly any time. We are very proud of the achievement to fly with a reduced noise, but we are most proud that we have been able to design the aeroplane and work the aeroplane with a new synthetic fuel. We are the first in history flying using a synthetic fuel. That is where our customers are. They want speed and luxury, but sustainable. We are very proud to have met all this.


Do you already have a long waiting list? We know that in yachting clients have to be patient, how does it work in aviation? If a client signs up today, how long would the lead-time be?


Right now, we have about $3.1 billion in contracts for the aeroplane, and we will deliver the first supersonic business jet in 2027. So, clients who sign the contract today will get the key in 2028/29.

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