The supersonic jet maker Aerion announced it completed high and low-speed wind tunnel testing of its AS2 business jet. The experiment was carried out with the assistance of French aerospace testing and research experts, ONERA in Modane, France.
In total, the AS2 testing accumulated the equivalent of 78,000 nautical miles (145,000 kilometers) flown representing hundreds of simulated flight hours. The experiment allowed engineers to assess more than 200,000 data points. The airframe was tested during several phases of a flight, from take-off and landing to subsonic and supersonic cruise. The aerodynamic impact of specific operational conditions, such as the deployment of landing gear, or the icing of the wings, were also assessed.
“This testing is an important validation step in the development of the AS2, allowing us to collect a high volume of data in a short time through the full operational envelope of the aircraft to ensure our design exceeds performance expectations,” Aerion’s Director, System Test & Evaluation, Robert Lewis commented in a statement.
“This key phase of testing validates our aerodynamic assumptions and tells us that the AS2 will achieve all of our performance expectations and in doing so, takes us a significant step closer to first flight,” added Tom Vice, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer.
Tests were carried out at several locations in North America and Europe. Among them, Aerion was able to use the largest sonic wind tunnel in the world, with a power of 88 MW. The facility is located in Modane, southeastern France, and is operated by the Office National d’Etudes et de Recherches Aérospatiales (ONERA), the French national aerospace research center.
The $120 million worth 12-seat supersonic business jet is set to fly for the first time in 2023. In June 2020, Boeing and Spirit Aerosystems, which had initially partnered with the U.S.-based Aerion, withdrew from the project due to the coronavirus crisis.
While commercial supersonic flights ceased after the career of the Concorde came to an abrupt end in 2003, the idea came back into fashion in recent years. No less than three companies, namely Boom Supersonic, Aerion, and Spike Aerospace, are trying to reintroduce supersonic airliners.