For anyone under the age of 60 or so, the thought of flying from New York to London in under five hours is nothing but a fantasy. But back in the more glamorous air travel days of the 1970’s and 80’s, that was the norm for anyone lucky enough to fly on the Concorde, a supersonic passenger aircraft that transported jet-setters across the pond in an oh-so-sexy way.
Now, the race is on to bring those days back, and several companies are trying to produce the first new supersonic passenger aircraft in over 50 years.
One of the companies is based in Florida. Aerion is working on their AS2 jet that they say will fly passengers from New York to London in 4.5 hours, and they are building a huge new global headquarters ahead of production of this new jet they hope to deliver in 2023. The company has raised over $300 million in capital investment, and some of those funds are being used to develop the company’s 110 acre headquarters in Orlando.
Their AS2 Jet will travel at Mach 1.4. Translation: that’s over 1,000 mph, and it would reduce a one way flight from New York to Singapore or New York to Sydney by over four hours.
The Concorde’s were put to pasture for good back in 2003. Their physical costs, and toll on the environment were simply too much to maintain, but Aerion hopes to launch carbon neutral vessels into the stratosphere. The new planes will cost $120 million, and things are going so well in the pre-sell that they plan on delivering 300 aircraft over 10 years, with the first flight tentatively scheduled for 2024. “We had to design an aircraft that was incredibly efficient with the lowest fuel-burn possible, so we spent 10 years thinking about advanced aerodynamics and fuel-efficient engines. We’ve designed specifically around noise and emissions,” Tom Vice, the CEO of Aerion told CNN.
A major design difference with the Concorde is Aerion’s planes won’t have afterburners. “We ruled that out because it’s too noisy and puts too much emissions in the environment,” Vice said. “The second thing we thought about was our energy source. We wanted an aircraft that wasn’t dependent upon fossil fuels and that could operate on 100% synthetic fuels from day one.”
Pass me the signup sheet. I’m in on one of the first flights!