Aerion expects new market research to confirm demand for a supersonic business jet remains strong, as it edges closer to an all-important agreement with an original equipment manufacturer to build its patented design.
"We are in active discussions with more than one OEM and should have an agreement concluded by the second half of next year if things don't get any worse in the world economy," says vice-chairman Brian Barents.
He says the company (stand E548) has engaged a market research company after last conducting a study five years ago, and is evaluating the data. "In the past few years, the market has shifted considerably towards emerging markets such as the Middle East, the CIS, China and India. We expect the research to show an even more robust market than we expected," he says.
According to Barents, the orderbook for its jet has remained stable despite the downturn, with about 50 letters of intent - backed by $250,000 deposits held in escrow. The Middle East accounts for about one-third of its orders.
Although several manufacturers have speculated about developing their own faster-than-sound business jet, Aerion believes its natural laminal flow technology, developed by its chief technology officer Dr Richard Tracy and his team, gives it a unique advantage to secure a partnering agreement.