Aerion has taken an order for its supersonic business jet from Sheik Rashid Bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, the leader of Ajman, smallest member state of the United Arab Emirates.

Sheik Rashid, head of the Ajman municipality and planning department, signed a letter of intent for the $80 million aircraft at the Dubai air show.

Sheik's Aerion
Sheik Rashid (right) shakes on deal to buy an SSBJ           © Aerion

Zurich, Switzerland-based ExecuJet is acting as sales agent for Aerion outside the Americas, and is offering 40 early delivery positions to customers in return for $250,000 refundable deposits.

Aerion is in discussions with candidate aircraft manufacturers to serve as programme integrator for the SSBJ and says it anticipates an agreement in the first half of 2018, allowing the aircraft to enter service in 2014.

Seating eight to 12 passengers, and with a range exceeding 7,400km (4,000nm), the Aerion SSBJ will cruise at speeds up to Mach 1.6. The aircraft will be able to cruise at up to M1.15 over land, where permitted, without causing a boom, says Aerion

In the continental USA, where civil supersonic flight over land is prohibited, the aircraft will cruise at just below Mach 1, a speed at which Aerion says the natural laminar-flow aerodynamics will offer economics comparable to existing large business jets.