The race for the modern-day Concorde continues to evolve, with a number of companies targeting the development of a supersonic transport plane by the end of this decade. But one company wants to take things a bit further. A lot further in fact. Aerion has this week revealed plans for its AS3TM, a 50-seater commercial plane, capable of traveling up to 7,000 NM at blistering speeds of 3,000 miles per hour!
The race for speed
There are a few contenders in the race to reignite supersonic travel for the masses. Boom Supersonic has made a bit of a splash, with recent investment from American Express, while Exosonic is seeking to make a supersonic Air Force One for the future. Russia and the UAE have formed a partnership to develop a new SST (supersonic transport), and the Spike S-512 promises a business travel upgrade that will get us around faster.
Most of these jets are targeting speeds of around Mach 2; Boom’s Overture claims it will be the ‘world’s fastest airliner’ with a speed of Mach 2.2. However, leading Boom competitor Aerion is determined to go one better.
This week, Aerion unveiled the upgrade to its AS2 supersonic jet. It’s called the AS3TM, and its targeting mass transport of people at eyewatering speeds in excess of Mach 4! In the equivalent ground speed, that’s at least 3,000 miles per hour. It would get you from Los Angeles to Tokyo in two and a half hours. London to New York would become an easy one hour commute.
Studying commercial flight in the region of Mach 3 to 5
Aerion has already been working hard on the development of its AS2 business jet, a smaller, Mach 1.4 supersonic transporter aiming for a 2027 launch. The AS3TM is planned to step this up a gear, bringing supersonic travel to the masses with capacity for 50 passengers.
Not only will the AS3 be fast, but it will also have quite some legs too. Aerion is targeting a range of 7,000 NM, far enough to handle the majority of the world’s long-haul routes. The company has the ambition of flying people between any two points on the globe in less than three hours!
Aerion is working in partnership with NASA’s Langley Research Center, a collaboration which it says is looking at “commercial high-speed flight and faster point-to-point travel, specifically studying commercial flight in the Mach 3-5 range (about 3,700-6,200 km/h)”.
Aerion’s Chairman, President and CEO, Tom Vice, commented on the AS3 saying,
“At Aerion, our vision is to build a future where humanity can travel between any two points on our planet within three hours. Supersonic flight is the starting point, but it is just that – the beginning. To truly revolutionize global mobility as we know it today, we must push the boundaries of what is possible.
“The AS3TM forms the next step in our long-term technology roadmap and will bring Aerion’s high Mach flight capability to a broader audience; we look forward to sharing more on our design later this year.”
So far, Aerion has only released tantalizing snippets of visuals for the aircraft, with no details on design or specifications. It plans to unveil further information later in 2021. Aerion is well supported, with investment from Boeing and orders already in for its AS2 jet. Whether the AS3TM transpires as a realistic proposition remains to be seen.