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Aerion Supersonic Closes

After 10 years of planning and preparation, breaking the sound barrier in a private jet has taken a major step backwards.  Aerion Supersonic has shuttered it operations because the millions of dollars raised thus far from investors, plus the contributions of its billionaire owner, are not going to be enough to bring to market its AS2 supersonic business jet.

“The AS2 supersonic business jet program meets all market, technical, regulatory and sustainability requirements, and the market for a new supersonic segment of general aviation has been validated with $11.2 billion in sales backlog for the AS2,” the company said in an statement Saturday.  “However, in the current financial environment, it has proven hugely challenging to close on the scheduled and necessary large new capital requirements to finalize the transition of the AS2 into production.  Given these conditions, the Aerion Corporation is now taking the appropriate steps in consideration of this ongoing financial environment.”

During the past decade, Aerion became a fixture at trade shows and hosted splashy news conferences and big-name supporters (such as Boeing), but it hasn’t made an airplane.  One of the company’s biggest announcements occurred at NBAA 2018 when Aerion announced that General Electric would develop and build the engine for the 12-seater jet.  But there wasn’t enough money to fund that billion-dollar project, which represented 25 percent of the estimated $4 billion cost of the program.

Aerion had announced a plan to move from Reno, Nevada, to Melbourne, Florida, and begin assembly of a prototype, which was expected to fly in 2024.  The FAA also had been laying the regulatory groundwork for testing of the new aircraft, including validation of its so-called “boomless technology,” which the company hoped would allow it to fly supersonic over land in the U.S., a practice that is banned at present.