A private jet company, whose clients fly out of Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, has placed the first fleet order for supersonic commercial business jets. Flexjet has ordered 20 Aerion AS2 jets for $120 million a piece, or a total of $2.4 billion, the fractional ownership company announced recently.
The three-engine jets will carry 8 to 12 passengers, and have a top speed of Mach 1.5, which is 67 percent faster than the top cruise speeds of current long-range subsonic jets, according to Aerion. The AS2 is slated to make its first flight in 2021, and enter service in 2023.
Flexjet Chairman, Kenn Ricci, said in a statement that the company was pleased to be able to offer supersonic, intercontinental flight capabilities to its owners.
Flexjet anticipates that many of its customers will use the AS2 in combination with its large-cabin aircraft, to take “advantage of the AS2’s speed to meet especially demanding travel schedules, such as intercontinental round trips in a single day,” the company said in a statement.
The jet could shave almost three hours off New York to London flights, compared with current subsonic aircraft. But for now supersonic flight is banned over the United States, mainly because of noise concerns caused by traveling faster than sound, i.e. the sonic booms that the aircraft would produce.
Aerion’s website suggests that boomless flight is feasible at speeds of up to Mach 1.2, because the shock waves that cause sonic booms would dissipate before reaching the ground. Aerion expects to run a flight demonstration program to get regulatory approval for flights at supersonic speeds after Aerion had already gained certification for its jets.
The company hopes it can encourage the U.S. to adopt International Civil Aviation Organization standards to permit the AS2 to fly at supersonic speeds over the U.S. and internationally.
Aerion and Airbus Group have been working collaboratively on the AS2 project since 2014.