Aerion Supersonic shuts down

Dream of supersonic business jet dies hard as funding dries up

(IMAGE: Aerion) Supersonic, the Florida-based supersonic business jet developer, has called it quits and is shutting down. The would-be maker of quiet supersonic business aircraft said it had trouble securing funding in the “current financial environment” and was going through the “appropriate steps”.

Earlier this year, Aerion held talks to go public through a special purpose acquisition company. (IMAGE: Aerion)

The company had planned to build what it called the AS2 supersonic business jet meant to cruise at speeds over 1,000mph without the sonic booms and cabin noise that plagued aircraft like the Concorde. It was supposed to fly by 2024 and enter service by 2026. Aerion had a number of high-profile partners, including Boeing and GE. Aerion didn’t say what would happen to the company’s assets following the shutdown. The company had been touting new developments as recently as late April. Avion Pacific was set to be the launch customer for the AS2 in Asia-Pacific, having placed an order for three aircraft in December 2019.

This isn’t the end to private supersonic air travel. Boom Supersonic is still developing its Overture airliner with hopes of passenger flights by 2029.

Overture is Boom’s 65-88 seat supersonic airliner, capable of running on 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel. (PHOTO: Boom)

“The AS2 supersonic business jet program meets all market, technical, regulatory and sustainability requirements and the market for a new supersonic segment of general aviation has been validated with US$11.2 billion in sales backlog for the AS2,” the company said in an statement. “However, in the current financial environment, it has proven hugely challenging to close on the scheduled and necessary large new capital requirements to finalize the transition of the AS2 into production. Given these conditions the Aerion corporation is now taking the appropriate steps in consideration of this ongoing financial environment.”

Aerion was founded by Texas billionaire Robert Bass. Despite high profile supporters like Boeing and GE, those companies have their own problems to deal with. Boeing has suffered for the past two years because of the grounding of its 737 MAX. Boeing had pledged to help Aerion with engineering and manufacturing when it announced “significant” backing for the company in 2019, ut the planemaker pared its funding in futuristic aircraft and dissolved its Boeing NeXt investment unit last year. “While we are disappointed Aerion could not secure additional funding to continue their work, we remain committed to working with innovative and creative partners who, like Aerion, continue to push limits on ground-breaking technology,” Boeing said in a statement.

Earlier this year, Aerion held talks to go public through a special purpose acquisition company, people familiar with the matter said in February. But there was a chance the talks would fall apart without an agreement, the people said at the time.

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