Galaxy Aerospace surprised NBAA attendees by showing interest in a supersonic business jet. It also announced plans for an official customer survey as a prelude to studies of potential new Galaxy derivatives in the large- and medium-sized markets.

President Brian Barents says: "We are asking ourselves if we ought to look at the supersonic business jet. Before I retire, I'm convinced that someone will build a supersonic aircraft." He adds that any Galaxy involvement would almost certainly include joint venture partner Israel Aircraft Industries.

In the nearer term, Barents says: "I suspect we will probably see derivatives of the Galaxy." The survey will be launched next quarter. "We need to understand what the customer wants, and we will determine what needs they have and what they are willing to pay."

With an emphasis on affordability, the company appears to be focusing on a potential stretch of the recently developed super mid-size Galaxy. "It would have the same cross-section, a new wing and propulsion system, state-of-the-art avionics suite and a 4,000nm [7,400km] range," says Barents. But he cautions: "I am not making a product announcement."

Although acknowledging there are aircraft fulfilling some aspects of this market, the proposed study will evaluate Galaxy's low-cost approach. "The key will be cost. We will do it at a price that the market place is willing to pay," he adds, saying the target price range will be $20-21 million, with a three- to four-year development.

Galaxy is also preparing to "explore the market below the Galaxy in the medium-size area," adds Barents. "The current [Astra] SPX is one of the best performers in its class in this area, but it has some limitations in the cabin." In the meantime, the SPX production rate has been increased to one a month, which will be sustained "indefinitely". The Galaxy, for which orders in "the late 40s" have been placed, is rising to two a month, says Barents.

The company expects to make up to 22 Galaxys next year and 24 in 2001 and could raise production to three a month, within the present capacity of the manufacturing line. Barents says this would entail "sacrificing some Astra production".

Source: Flight International