Boom, Aerion & Spike head-to-head in supersonic jet race
The AS2 would have the capability of Mach 1.4 (over 1,000 mph), enabling it to fly directly from New York to Sao Paulo and London to Beijing (for comparison, the speed of subsonic business jets stands at Mach 0.9). Aerion is also planning to develop larger and faster variants of the AS2 that could serve as a larger cabin, longer-range business jet and potentially, a small commercial airliner.
The concept design of the AS2 (Image: Aerion Supersonic)
“We are starting with a business jet because the technology closes and the business case closes—we see a viable market for the AS2. It will be our springboard to larger and faster designs, both for business aviation and commercial airliners,” Aerion CEO Tom Vice has stated.
Aerion is collaborating with GE Aviation, Lockheed Martin and Honeywell to develop the AS2. GE Aviation announced it completed the initial design of the first supersonic engine for business jets in October 2018, naming the new engine class as he GE Affinity turbofan.
The AS2 (Image: Aerion Supersonic)
Like its rivals, Aerion proclaims it is expecting its AS2 business jet to take off for its first flight in 2023.
The AS2 interior (Image: Aerion Supersonic)
The Spike S-512
Spike Aerospace is developing a “quiet” supersonic airplane known as the Spike S-512 Quiet Supersonic Jet. The company is aiming for the S-512 to have a sonic signature less than 75 PLdb (perceived loudness level) at ground level, likened to the sound of a soft clap.
The S-512 would seat 12 to 18 passengers and be able to fly up to 6,200 nautical miles at cruising speed of Mach 1.6 (1,100 mph). That would allow for non-stop flights such as from New York to London in just three to four hours.
Spike has already flown its subsonic subscale SX-1.2 demonstrator plane. The jet completed seven test flights back in 2017. Having held talks with GE and Rolls-Royce, the manufacturer is currently in the process of selecting an engine for its plane. The $125 million S-512 jet is being developed with the help of Greenpoint Technologies and Siemens.
The Spike S-512 (Image: Spike Aerospace)
According to Reuters, Spike already has two orders for the aircraft and is conducting ongoing discussions with a commercial airline. The Boston-based company plans to manufacture four supersonic test aircraft and is aiming to start test flights in two years. The jet is expected to enter into service in mid-2020s.
The Spike S-512 interior (Image: Spike Aerospace)
Boeing & Lockheed Martin
In June last year, Boeing released the first concept of its hypersonic passenger plane, one of the several that company engineers are currently studying. Not many details, including the name of the aircraft, are yet known, except that the plane would have a variety of potential applications, including military. Were hypersonic aircraft to be produced, they would be capable of travelling at the speed of Mach 5 (4,000 mph).
If 2018 seems to have been a good year for supersonic passenger plane projects, that’s because it was. Prior to Boeing’s announcement, in April last year, Lockheed Martin revealed it had partnered up with NASA to build a low-boom flight demonstration aircraft that could minimize the sound of the sonic boom to that of a car door closing. Under the deal, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works will build an experimental aircraft, known as the X-plane, of its preliminary design developed with NASA's Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST).
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