Boeing Shakes Things Up with Aerion Partnership

by PBJ Staff / Feb 25, 2019

The Aerion AS2
The Aerion AS2 (Picture Source: Aerion Corp)

There are few companies in aviation with as much influence as Boeing. The iconic name behind classics like the Boeing 707 has a huge amount of financial and industry impact. So, when they recently announced a new partnership with Aerion, it certainly turned a few heads.

It’s not every day a company manages to secure such a lucrative partnership with a bastion of the aviation industry. So, who is Aerion? And what can they bring to the table?

Regular readers of the Paramount Business Jets blog will already be very familiar with Aerion and their exploits. The remarkable Aerion AS2 made our list of the ‘World’s 5 Fastest Private Jets’, comfortably holding its own – and even excelling – among the likes of the Gulfstream G650 and the Cessna Citation X. To go shoulder-too-shoulder with giants in the game such as these is no small feat, and clearly helped catch the eye of suitors Boeing.

It’s easy to see what attracted Boeing to the Aerion AS2. It’s a special aircraft which can fly at speeds of up to Mach 1.4 (yes, you read that correctly) which equates to around 1,000 mph. To put that into context, you’d be flying around 70% faster than you would expect to in a standard business jet. Time saving of that magnitude holds huge pulling power.

Boeing make a ‘significant investment’

The Aerion AS2
The Aerion AS2 (Picture Source: Aerion Corp)

The specifics of the deal are still uncertain. No finite amount has been released to the media, with Boeing announcing it had made a ‘significant investment’ in Aerion. But what we can be certain on is what Boeing is planning to contribute to the budding aircraft’s development. They’ll now provide engineering, manufacturing and flight testing services in the run up to its release. Considering that its current release date is 2023, that’s certainly a chunky amount of investment – both financially and in terms of time committed to the project.

But they won’t be overhauling the current process. The timeline has remained fixed at 2023, with the new partners in no hurry to enforce a shorter deadline. Plans to incorporate the GE Aviation Affinity engine also remain unchanged. In short, it’s still going to be the plane it was destined to be – it just has a new admirer backing it.

Boeing has pedigree — no doubt about it. It’s the world’s largest aerospace company and has a major influence in the manufacturing of commercial aircraft and defense, security and space systems. Its portfolio boasts autonomous vehicles, hypersonic aircraft and more. It’s the top manufacturing exporter in the US and lends its support to over 150 countries. Nobody is doubting their impact.

But cornering the market is far from a sure thing, as there is already some stiff competition out there in the Supersonic Jet marketplace.

In competition with Spike Aerospace’s S-512

Spike S-512 (Picture Source: Spike Aerospace)

The Aerion AS2 is not the only Supersonic Jet under development. Several years ago, we reported on Spike Aerospace’s proposed S-512 Supersonic Jet, which came with the goal of reducing flying time by up to 50%. Still in development, the S-512 aims to achieve this without creating a loud sonic boom. This would be a huge plus, not just in terms of convenience but to meet current subsonic noise standards. It also has a fuel-efficient design and can carry 18 passengers as Mach 1.6, so the AS2 certainly has its work cut out if it wants to emerge as a frontrunner.

These are important steps which, if done right, could transform the way people travel. Steve Nordlund, Vice President and General Manager of Boeing NeXt, labelled it a “mobility transformation” in a recent interview:

‘Boeing is leading a mobility transformation that will safely and efficiently connect the world faster than ever before,’ said Mr Nordlund. ‘This is a strategic and disciplined leading-edge investment in further maturing supersonic technology.

‘Through this partnership that combines Aerion’s supersonic expertise with Boeing’s global industrial scale and commercial aviation experience, we have the right team to build the future of sustainable supersonic flight.’

A project born in 2003

The Aerion AS2 Interior
The Aerion AS2 Interior (Picture Source: Aerion Corp)

The word ‘sustainable’ made for an interesting choice. It’s certainly a buzz word in the industry at the moment as attention turns to renewable sources of jet fuel, but it’s equally descriptive of the company Boeing is partnering with.

As you may suspect, this is no short-term project. It was founded back in 2003 to break new strides in developing efficient, aerodynamic technologies for this specific type of aircraft. It wasn’t until over a decade later, in 2014, that the first AS2 jet designs would be released. And it was a further four years until the engine was announced. Clearly, this is a company that takes calculated, serious steps. Undoubtedly, this methodical approach and the huge amount of time already invested in the project will have been major points that helped convince Boeing to take the plunge.

Naturally, Aerion seem thrilled at the latest developments, which are likely to lead to increased media attention and flexibility in its development.

‘Enhancing humanity’s productivity and potential’

The Aerion AS2 Interior
The Aerion AS2 Interior (Picture Source: Aerion Corp)

‘Aerion is the industry leader mapping out a successful, sustainable return to supersonic flight,’ said Chairman, President and Chief Executive officer of Aerion, Tom Vice. ‘The AS2 is the launch point for the future of regulatory-compliant and efficient supersonic flight.

‘Together with Boeing, we’re creating a faster, more connected future with tremendous possibilities for enhancing humanity’s productivity and potential.’

Big words and big ideas are apparent in Mr Vice’s words, speaking of an impact on ‘humanity’s productivity and potential’ as opposed to just the aviation industry. There’s definitely the feeling that something special is happening between these two companies, and all eyes are now firmly on the 2023 release date.

Excitement has been building for some time about the potential of Supersonic Jet travel. With Boeing entering the game with such significant force, that excitement looks justified. In a few years, we may be looking at travel in a very different way indeed.

Picture Sources: Aerion Corp, Spike Aerospace.

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