The Concorde was once seen as a bold new future for air travel. First released in 1969, it was the first supersonic jet, and it offered speeds that significantly outstripped those of more conventional commercial airlines. But the idea of the SSJ never quite took the world by storm. While many were amazed by what the Concorde could accomplish, SSJs weren’t able to find a sustainable price structure outside of the exorbitantly wealthy, and only two models of SSJs were ultimately produced. The Concorde was finally retired in 2003 after a crash resulted in flagging ticket sales. But new movements by Boeing suggest that the aerospace giant may believe that the Concorde was a great idea that came too soon. A new partnership with Aerion suggests that they’re testing the waters for supersonic flight once more.
Much has changed in the decade and a half since the Concorde was retired. New technologies allow for supersonic jets that are far more less costly for the consumer and that have a less devastating impact on the environment. With the tragic crash outside of Paris now well in the past, attitudes have potentially changed meaningfully for travelers as well. And while Concorde is still vague with the particulars of their new partnership, they’ve announced that the development involves a “significant investment”.
A more known quantity is Aerion’s plans for their supersonic jet – dubbed the AS2 business jet – which is designed to take the speed of a Concorde and make it more accessible to business travelers who don’t occupy the highest percentage of a percentage of earners. This new business jet will contain room for twelve passengers and fly at Mach 1.4, or 1,038 miles per hour. Powering the AS2 will be a GE Affinity engine that makes use of an advanced fuselage design to minimize the strength of the sonic boom. And the AS2 could be debuting sooner than many might expect. The first AS2 is scheduled to begin testing as early as 2023, and it could debut in an official capacity in 2025. While the exact circumstances of Boeing’s relationship with Aerion are undisclosed, they aren’t the first aerospace company to enter into a partnership. Lockheed Martin was originally working with Aerion on the development of their jet, but they have since severed their partnership.