NBAA: Aerion gets supersonic test results

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Supersonic business jet developer Aerion has revealed preliminary results from a new round of flight tests carried out in collaboration with NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center. The tests, which took place in July and August and achieved a top speed of Mach 2.0.

"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," says Reno, Nevada-based Aerion's vice-chairman Brian Barents.

Data gained from the initial series of five data flights aboard a NASA Boeing F-15B combat aircraft are being analysed by comparing the static pressures recorded at 60 points on the flat plate at varying speeds and altitudes with those predicted by 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 under way. Design goals include achieving maximum extent of supersonic laminar flow, confirmation of its robustness under realistic conditions and crossflow pressure gradients.

"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," says Dr Richard Tracy, Aerion's chief technology officer.

Aerion's SBJ is designed to carry eight to 12 passengers efficiently at high subsonic as well as supersonic speeds. It has attracted around 50 letters of intent with accompanying deposits for the $80 million aircraft, says the company.