Aerion Supersonic's dream of replacing Concorde has failed to take off, and the company has abruptly revealed on Friday that it is ceasing operations, as first noted by Florida Today. The Nevada-based firm had intended to develop business jets capable of quietly flying almost twice as high as commercial airplanes, at speeds of Mach 1.4 (1,000 mph), but it was unable to raise the funds to build its AS2 supersonic aircraft, despite having Boeing's backing.
The AS2 was first revealed in 2005, but it remained a concept until about 2019 when the company revealed it received financing and started talking about the production phase and a new factory. In January 2020, Aerion revealed it planned the first AS2 jet flight to take place by 2024 and start commercial operations in 2026.
The aerospace corporation planned to construct a $375 million production facility at Orlando Melbourne International Airport. The jet was estimated to cost $120 million per unit, with a development cost of about $4 billion, according to The Verge. At the time, the company had already invested $1 billion in designing the AS2's engine, which was to be supplied by GE Aviation.
Aerion had also previously collaborated with Lockheed Martin and Airbus on the initiative. However, it all now seems to come to an end.
"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 $11.2 billion in sales backlog for the AS2," the company said in a statement to Florida Today. "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."
The company said it is "now taking the appropriate steps in consideration of this ongoing financial environment," given the current conditions and financial challenges.
When it comes to supersonic jets in general, however, the dream of flying from Tokyo to Seattle in just 4:30 hours — half the time it takes on regular flights — seems to be getting closer. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued a new final rule on January 2021 to help reintroduce commercial supersonic aircraft, approving commercial supersonic flight testing in the U.S.
Boom Supersonic is one of the firms that are committed to delivering on the promise of a modern commercial supersonic aircraft and it plans to launch a scale model of its aircraft this year. It has already raised close to $200 million, and its XB-1 is slated for service by 2029.