Since British Airways retired the Airbus Concord in 2002, the global aviation industry has a score to settle with supersonic travel. Although presently there are several projects that claim their planes will rise above the speed barrier in the future, it seems that the first company to achieve this goal will be— once again— Europe’s Airbus. The world’s largest manufacturer of aircraft and aerospace equipment— alongside Boeing—has recently announced the development of its supersonic AS2, in collaboration with the aerospace firm Aerion of Reno, Nevada, United States.
Almost every entrepreneur, executive, tycoon, athlete and celebrity is tempted to reduce by half their travel time. According to recent market research, the demand for supersonic travel would be paramount in the future. This is especially crucial for the Asian market, which has shown unprecedented growth in the number of wealthy clients seeking to travel to the West in a faster and more efficient manner.
Given this scenario, Airbus joined Aerion— founded in 2002 by the Texas billionaire Robert M. Bass— to produce supersonic aircraft apt for commercial and executive use. The technological development team of this American firm has been very effective researching new designs for airframes and wings able to reduce aerodynamic drag, as well as the use of more efficient turbines that decrease the level of fuel consumption. More about private jets.
Airbus conducted a thorough study of these advances and suggested that the two companies should form a partnership. The development of patents by Aerion and the use of its design software, together with their experience in space development, mastering of market regulations and the history of Airbus certifications, will allow the construction of the next supersonic model soon.
The goal of both companies is to start working on the new AS2 in 2016, have a testing prototype by 2019, certify their use and offer it to the market beginning in 2021. According to Aerion, in a 20-year span there will be a demand for 600 units of this aircraft, which will have a market price of around $110 million.
The AS2 flies at subsonic speeds over continental areas and will accelerate to exceed the sound barrier only over international waters, respecting current flight regulations. The aircraft can travel at a maximum speed of 1,900 km / h (1,180 mph) and will fly from San Francisco to Tokyo in just five hours.
With a design style characteristic of a private jet, the 9-meter (29 feet) long cabin, 2.20 meters (7 feet) wide and 1.90 (6 feet) high is equipped with 100 percent reclining seats offering maximum comfort to its 12 passengers.
If all goes according to plan, in less than a decade, we shall travel again exceeding the speed of sound, with the comfort and luxury of a super modern private jet. ■