The main disappointment of the week when it comes to aviation advances was the half-baked reporting of claimed ‘assistance’ for the very long running Aerion as2 supersonic corporate jet ‘successor’ to the defunct Concorde from the engine designer and maker GE. Even Bloomberg went soft on this. In this report it says the as2 is set to receive a ‘boost’ from GE.
However further down the story also points out that a ‘boost’ as in cash or technical resources isn’t there. Instead it quotes GE as saying a final agreement (on anything) has yet to be reached. Brad Mottier, GE’s vice president for business aviation says “We welcome their vision and are excited to continue discussions on engine configuration.”
This is probably the real story. No-one, including GE and Airbus, is likely to take the engine ambitions for the as2 seriously if Aerion continues to articulate a case for one which will simultaneously perform like the highest tech subsonic engines under development in terms of fuel economy, by-pass ratios, and emissions, and conform to the totally different low by-pass, higher density power performance requirements of faster than sound aircraft propulsion systems.
The Aerion as2 isn’t a Concorde successor either. Concorde carried up to 100 passengers at just under mach 2 and close to 60,000 feet altitude and its subsonic ‘sweet spot’ was around mach 0.9 at 29,000 feet. The as2 will carry up to 12 passengers at mach 1.5 where a sonic overboom isn’t a problem, or at ‘just under’ mach 1 over inhabited areas.
It is specified for a slightly longer range duration than Concorde, but on the current figures, not with enough supersonic range to do Australia to west coast USA in less than two stops, which would not make it competitive with the latest version of the Gulfstream G650ER which can do Melbourne-Los Angeles non-stop at fast subsonic speed. To have reasons to get excited about the Aerion as2 it would be necessary to learn about how the deal with Airbus announced in 2014 has made satisfactory progress to a claimed in-service date in 2021. Nothing material has been heard about the Airbus ‘collaboration’ since September 2014. It didn’t rate a mention in general media reports about the GE ‘boost’ last week. The silence is deafening.