Exclusive: Inside Exosonic’s Supersonic Air Force One Ambitions

The United States Air Force’s Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate has partnered with Exosonic to develop a supersonic executive transport. With this move, the pair are looking to provide government leaders with rapid travel around the world while emitting low booms. Simple Flying caught up with the leadership behind Exosonic to find out more about the company’s aircraft.

Exosonic Presidential Jet
Exosonic’s aircraft will have a cruise of Mach 1.8 and a range of over 5,000 nautical miles. Photo: Exosonic

A different angle

The company’s CEO, Norris Tie, has a strong background in the aerospace field, having worked as a propulsion engineer. All of his projects have involved vessels that travel faster than the speed of sound. Now, with Exosonic, he and his team have a mission to move people around the world faster. Ultimately, the organization is keen to make the world smaller through faster transportation.

With this factor in mind, Exosonic is eager to overcome some of the most significant challenges that the supersonic industry has faced in previous years. One of the prime criticisms of supersonic aircraft is the loud sonic boom that is created. There had previously been plenty of opposition to this type of flight amid the noise pollution. However, Tie and his colleagues are confident that they can solve this issue.

With low boom capability, the firm feels that the market is now at an inflection point where supersonic jets capable of quiet flight will eventually make existing subsonic planes obsolete. However, to achieve this, careful design planning has to be in place.

Exosonic Cabin
This executive transport contract is sponsored by the Air Force Research Lab. Photo: Exosonic

The domino effect

Notably, the shape of the proposed presidential jet will be directly determined by efforts in this field. Subsequently, the cabin setup is also affected.

“How to generate a local supersonic airplane is through the aerodynamic shaping of the vehicle. So, you’ll see that a lot of these vehicles typically have a long nose, and that’s how to help distribute the shockwaves across the vehicle so that they’re spread out as they travel above the ground and send a series of smaller, weaker booms,” Tie tells Simple Flying.

“There is a lot of careful shaping in the aircraft design, and that, of course, impacts the interior cabin design. So, we have some interesting cabin design complexity to deal with.

The low boom capabilities will undoubtedly be a plus for future presidents not looking to draw attention while traveling. Nonetheless, particular governmental needs will also have to be considered in regard to the cabin.

Exosonic Jet Cabin
Exosonic is looking to enable travel from JFK to LAX in just three hours, which saves approximately half the time. Photo: Exosonic

Certain specifications

Stephanie Chahan, Exosonic’s principal aircraft interior designer and business development analyst, has a background specializing in VVIP and head-of-state aircraft interiors. So, she has plenty of expertise when dealing with special requirements from global leaders. Chahan explains that the governmental jet will be based on Exosonic’s flagship aircraft but with unique modifications throughout the interior.

“It is meant to be a derivative of our commercial airliner that we’re working on. Our ultimate goal is to have the commercial airliner that we can bring to market so that we can transport people faster around the world. With this contract awarded by the US Air Force’s AFWERX program, it’s meant to help us create a concept that could come to life someday,“ Chahan shares.

“So, we’re taking, what would be our commercial airliner. retrofitting it essentially and creating a derivative for executive transport. There are special requirements for working with the government, they may need different communications systems or security, and we have to keep all those in mind as we’re working on the cabin design.”

Other customizations include reconfiguring the cabin to include the required accommodations for a more private setting, so US leaders and their guests to work and rest onboard the aircraft. For commercial flights, the jet can be configured to serve up to 70 passengers. However, the setup would be more intimate when it comes to the US Air Force’s requirements.

Exosonic Interior
The interior designers will be looking to provide comfort while offering sufficient workspace for executives. Photo: Exosonic

A changing industry

The company’s supersonic jet is expected to be introduced by the early to mid-2030s. With this timeframe being up to 15 years away, It can be a challenge to determine what new passenger requirements will be around. Nonetheless, the firm’s teams are planning ahead. For instance, following the change of social climate amid the pandemic, antimicrobial materials could be utilized.

A requirement that is clear for the future is the focus on sustainability. Exosonic expresses that environmental goals don’t need to be sacrificed in favor of speed. Therefore, the firm is actively working to ensure that supersonic aviation is friendly to those on the ground. So, it is developing aircraft that run on sustainable fuels. Moreover, it is making sure its supply chain for materials used within the vehicles is also sustainable.

The US Air Force’s Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate’s program executive officer, Brig. Gen. Britton, is looking forward to the cutting-edge technology that will come with the project. He highlights that transporting important leaders across the globe in half the time can be the difference between success and failure. So, Exosonic’s role is critical to the future shape of executive travel.

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The right backing

Overall, there are several players that are focused on reintroducing supersonic travel to the global spectrum. However, when it comes to governmental requirements, especially presidential jets, officials have to ensure that they are making the right choice when choosing a suitor for their needs.

Exosonic prides itself on having a combined 60+ years of experience in the aerospace market concentrating on high-performance supersonic transports. Therefore, this factor, along with the technological ambitions will prove to be vital after the jet is introduced by the middle of the 2030s.

What are your thoughts about Exonsonic’s concepts? Are you excited about the future introduction of new supersonic aircraft? Let us know what you think of the prospects in the comment section.