Dassault Aviation has signed a co-operation accord with Sukhoi that could lead to the pair jointly developing a supersonic business jet (SSBJ), corporate shuttles and unmanned air vehicles.

The French manufacturer's long-standing plans to build a Mach 1.8 business jet have been stalled by difficulties in reducing sonic boom. "It is unlikely that Sukhoi will be able to contribute much to the engine integration for any supersonic jet, as it is largely a military company, but we have yet to identify its supersonic expertise," says Dassault.

The three-engined supersonic Falcon under study would be about 31m (100ft) long and feature a canard configuration. Dassault is understood to be studying a version of the Snecma M88 engine used in the Rafale fighter as well as the General Electric F414 as possible powerplants.

It intends to use mixer nozzles in place of afterburners to reduce noise, and further details are expected to be revealed at the October National Business Aviation Association convention in Orlando, Florida. The current design has a maximum range of around 7,500km (4,050nm).

Dassault began the studies in the 1980s. Sukhoi, meanwhile, teamed up with Gulfstream in the early 1990s to develop a M2 SSBJ, but the project was later shelved.

Meanwhile, the Epistle European supersonic transport research programme says a second-generation supersonic passenger aircraft could be made around 40% quieter than Concorde.

Source: Flight International