Supersonic business jet start-up Spike Aerospace is poised to begin flight tests of an unmanned, scaled proof-of-concept demonstrator that will validate the low-speed aerodynamics of its in-development S-512 aircraft.

The Boston, Massachusetts-based company says SX-1.2 will focus on stability and control tests and will be followed by a series of progressively larger and faster demonstrators, leading ultimately, it says, to a supersonic version.

"We have done a lot of analysis using computational fluid dynamics tools and simulations," says Spike president and chief executive Vik Kachoria. "But until you get an aircraft into the air you don't really have proof of how it will handle."

Spike has completed two unmanned demonstrators and is building a third. The firm plans to start high-speed flight tests in mid-2018, and to begin piloted supersonic flights in yet another demonstrator by the end of 2019.

The full-scale S-512 supersonic business jet is scheduled to begin flight testing in 2021, leading to customer deliveries in 2023, says Spike.

The 18-passenger aircraft is projected to have a top-speed of Mach 1.6, a range of 6,200nm (11,500km) and a maximum take-off weight of 52,200kg (115,000lb).

Source: Flight International