Sound barrier – the end of AS2

Regular readers of Airborne will have followed the high-profile development and progress of Aerion Supersonic to develop a new supersonic business jet – the AS2. It therefore came as a bitter blow when, on 21 May, the US manufacturer announced the cancellation of the AS2 programme, citing overwhelming financial pressures.

In a press statement the firm said: “The AS2 supersonic business jet programme meets all market, technical, regulatory and sustainability requirements, and the market for a new supersonic segment of general aviation has been validated with USD11.2 billion in sales backlog for the AS2. However, in the current financial environment, it has proven hugely challenging to close on the scheduled and necessary large new capital requirements to finalise the transition of the AS2 into production.”

In a smooth development path, Aerion had previously announced manufacturer participation from major OEMs, the construction of a new headquarters and production facility in Melbourne, Florida, and a substantial order book including a commitment for up to 20 aircraft from NetJets. The programme had also established its ‘green credentials’ through its commitment to the use of sustainable fuels. The first flight of the AS2 had been planned for 2024, with initial deliveries set for 2027.

Just days later, United Airlines gave a boost to all those yearning for supersonic travel by setting out a commitment to purchase 15 Overture airliners under development by Boom Supersonic; the airline also holds options for a further 35. These aircraft will fly at Mach 1.7 (twice the speed of current airliners) and will seat up to 55 passengers. The Overture is expected to enter service in 2029.

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