Like most people, I thought I had missed the boat – or plane in this case – of ever smashing the sound barrier, when the last Concorde was taken out of commission back in 2003. But, with Lockheed Martin and Aerions’ recent announcement of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to explore the development of the AS2 business jet, it looks like supersonic travel is back on the agenda in civil aviation.
Over the next 12 months, Aerion, Lockheed Martin and GE Aviation will work together to develop a framework on all phases of the program, including engineering, certification and production.
The super sleek jet will feature an innovative wing design which, depending on atmospherics, will push the AS2 up to speeds of Mach 1.2 and halt sonic booms before they reach the ground. The special wing shape will allow the AS2 to fly at low supersonic velocities over land, without breaching current regualtions.
If all goes to plan we will can expect transatlantic flight times to be shortened by approx 3 hours, and a return to the days when you could jet to New York from London in the morning, for a last minute power-lunch, and be back before the end of the day. Sign me up.
The MOU is the result of extensive discussions between Aerion and Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works Advanced Development Programs team. For close to 75 years, Skunk Works has existed to create revolutionary aircraft that push the boundaries of what is possible.
Discussing the agreement Aerion chairman Robert M. Bass stated, “This relationship is absolutely key to creating a supersonic renaissance. When it comes to supersonic know-how, Lockheed Martin’s capabilities are well known, and, in fact, legendary. We share with Lockheed Martin a commitment to the long-term development of efficient civil supersonic aircraft.”
“We are excited to work with Aerion on their development of the next-generation, efficient supersonic jet that will potentially serve as a platform for pioneering future supersonic aircraft,” said Orlando Carvalho, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.
Me too, Orlando. Me too.