Aerion is ready to become a technology partner rather than a brand when an OEM steps up to be lead manufacturer for the supersonic business jet (SSBJ).
Former Bombardier executive vice president John Holden, who led development of programs such as the Global Express and Challenger 300, has now joined the team to help it embark on a “proof of concept” as it continues to progress to a planned 2014 certification for the supersonic business jet design.
Discussions are ongoing with several OEMs and Aerion vice chairman Brian Barents says he hopes an announcement would be made by the end of the year.
“We are very encouraged by the seriousness of these discussions and also by the results of recent tests that confirm high-speed performance predictions,” Barents says.
During the proof-of-concept phase, Aerion will define systems, confirm weight build-up, and further validate performance. The design program will focus on all key certification criteria to ensure the ability to certify the aircraft in a timely fashion.
Previously, the engineering effort was focused mainly on the optimization and validation of the aerodynamics of an efficient supersonic business jet design.
Barents says Holding’s appointment will help the drive towards certification: “At Bombardier, he was instrumental in creating innovative supplier partnerships and processes for the development and engineering of new aircraft. His industry influence has extended well beyond Bombardier.”
Barents adds: “There is simply no one with more experience and a greater track record of bringing new and innovative jets to market.” Aerion has recently conducted wind tunnel tests at the unique European Transonic Wind Tunnel near Cologne, Germany, simulating supersonic laminar flow wing performance at cruising altitude.
The tests confirmed supersonic natural laminar flow at full-scale Reynolds numbers, equivalent to flying the actual aircraft at greater than 45,000ft. “These were historic tests, demonstrating for the first time supersonic natural laminar flow in a wind tunnel on a wing-like model at full-scale Reynolds numbers,” says Dr Richard Tracy, Aerion’s Chief Technology Officer, who supervised the tests.