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The joint engineering efforts that Aerion and Airbus Group have dedicated to the AS2 supersonic business jet since 2014 have taken on even more importance as it was announced in mid-November that the aircraft has received its first firm order for 20 from Flexjet.

Since entering into a collaborative relationship in 2014, Aerion and Airbus Group engineering teams have been deeply engaged in designing aircraft structures and systems. Airbus Defence & Space has taken the lead in the design of airframe structures, digital flight controls, an integrated fuel system, and the landing gear system. Aerion is responsible for all other systems, including avionics, environmental control, auxiliary power, hydraulics, electrical system, cabin systems, and more. The two companies share responsibility for aerodynamics and flight sciences.
Carrying eight to 12 passengers, the AS2 will have an intercontinental-capable range of 4750 nmi at supersonic speed, saving three hours across the Atlantic vs. subsonic aircraft and more than six hours on longer trans-Pacific routes. The three-engine jet will make its first flight in 2021 and enter service in 2023.

“We see Aerion's technology and the AS2's performance capabilities as potential game-changers for business travel,” said Flexjet Chairman Kenn Ricci. Flexjet offers fractional jet ownership and leasing. Aerion and Flexjet will work together to design the interiors for the AS2s.

In terms of Airbus and Aerion working together, the two companies have been proceeding “quietly, but steadily” on the Mach 1.5 AS2 since the first joint engineering team meeting in 2014.

The flight deck of the AS2 is being designed to maximize situational awareness through a combination of advanced avionics, natural line of sight, and ergonomics. Aerion will craft the flight deck with considerable attention to day/night illumination, making the cockpit environment as inviting as the cabin.
Airbus Defence & Space (Airbus DS) out of Spain has made progress in the engineering of airframe structures, the AS2’s fly-by-wire flight control system, its integrated fuel system, and landing gear. Some of the company’s accomplishments include preliminary designs for a 10-spar carbon fiber wing structure, fuselage and empennage structures, an articulating main landing gear system that minimizes space requirements in the fuselage when stowed/retracted, and a fuel system that is integrated with the digital fly-by-wire system for control of center of gravity.

The aircraft’s flight control design will take advantage of small, powerful actuators that can be housed in the AS2’s thin flying surfaces. To supplement the design process, Airbus DS built a sample titanium wing leadingedge section for evaluation and is testing composite material specimens to optimize material properties.

Full-scale engineering mockup for the AS2's cockpit and cabin design at Design Q in Redditch, England.
Aerion is the lead for other systems, such as avionics, electrical, environmental control, hydraulics, and auxiliary power. In conjunction with Airbus DS, Aerion had made preliminary space allocations for every system with weight and balance considerations in mind. Candidate suppliers have been identified and the supplier selection process has begun. Group, and other Tier 1 equipment suppliers gathered at Aerion headquarters in Reno for a four-day technical and program review, covering engineering accomplished to date on all structures and aircraft systems.

Basic dimensions of the AS2.
“The take-away from the design review and the effort this past year is that we have moved out of the conceptual design phase into commercializing Aerion technology,” said Aerion Senior Vice President for Aircraft Development Mike Hinderberger, “We are doing the engineering work today that will allow us to build and fly a supersonic jet at the turn of the next decade.”

As it stands, the engine will be the pacing element for the first flight of the AS2 in 2021. The original design specified the JT8D engine from Pratt & Whitney, and the engineers are now looking at more modern engines.