Moving Closer To A Supersonic Business Jet
Preliminary results from flight testing done in conjunction with
NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center were released at the NBAA
convention in Atlanta by Aerion Corporation, which is working on
what would be the world's first Supersonic Business Jet. These
tests, which took place in July and August 2010 and achieved a top
speed of Mach 2.0, mark the latest milestone in preliminary
engineering activities for the SBJ.
"Test flights this past summer are tangible proof that Aerion is
leveraging all available assets to continue refining technology
that will be applied to our planned supersonic business jet," said
Aerion Vice Chairman Brian Barents. "We thank our investors and
preliminary customers for their continued support, as well as
NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate for their unique
testing expertise and facilities. Aerion remains convinced of the
need not just to fly farther and in greater comfort, but much
quicker as well."
Data gained from the initial series of five data flights aboard
a NASA F-15B aircraft are being analyzed by comparing the static
pressures recorded at 60 points on the flat plate at varying speeds
and altitudes with those predicted by aircraft computer models,
including the test pylon and flat plate test article. Engine inlet
parameters are included in the model and adjustable to achieve the
best fit with the measured pressures during the F-15B tests.
This process has been completed and the design of a test article
to be used in the next series is well along. The design goals
include achieving maximum extent of supersonic laminar flow,
confirmation of its robustness under realistic conditions and
crossflow pressure gradients. When the aerodynamic optimization of
the new test article has been completed, mechanical design and
fabrication to NASA flight test criteria will be carried out by
Aerion. Then, after ground and flight qualification tests by NASA,
the second phase of the tests will be performed.
"Future tests will evaluate supersonic boundary layer transition
properties as they relate to manufacturing standards for surface
quality and assembly tolerances, both crucial to future production
of Aerion's supersonic business jet," said Dr. Richard Tracy, the
company's chief technology officer.
Aerion's SBJ, designed to carry 8-12 passengers efficiently at
high subsonic as well as supersonic speeds, has attracted roughly
50 letters of intent with accompanying deposits for the $80 million
aircraft. This $4 billion order book has remained relatively
constant, despite recent economic volatility. The company is
engaged in ongoing talks with business aviation original equipment
manufacturers; aircraft deliveries would begin five to six years
from the formation of a joint venture to cover the rest of SBJ
development, production, certification, sales and support.