Aerion, a company backed by Texas billionaire Robert Bass that’s designing a supersonic business plane, outlined plans for a 50-passenger jetliner that would fly four times the speed of sound and take to the skies before the end of this decade.
The commercial aircraft would fly faster and farther than the private jet, with a goal of reaching Tokyo from Los Angeles in three hours, Aerion said in an emailed statement Monday. Despite the uncertain outcome of Aerion’s efforts to bring a viable plane to market, the company promised technology “to improve efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of supersonic flight.”
Aerion is vying with startups including Boom Technology Inc. to be the first to replace the out-of-service Concorde, the only passenger aircraft to fly faster than the speed of sound. But the would-be planemakers are grappling with the same problems that caused the Concorde’s demise in 2003: hefty fuel burn as well as sonic booms and noisy engines that resulted in bans on civilian supersonic speeds over most countries, Bloomberg reported.
Founded by Bass almost two decades ago, Aerion is working with General Electric Co. to design a new engine and won backing from Boeing Co. two years ago. The AS2, as the business jet is known, is scheduled to fly in 2027. It got a boost this month with a 20-aircraft order from NetJets, the largest luxury-aircraft operator and a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
Aerion’s proposed jetliner is called the AS3.