Aerion order book crosses $3 billion threshold
In the six months that Aerion has been accepting orders for the Aerion supersonic business jet, the company has received more than 40 Letters of Intent, backed up by refundable deposits of $250,000. At a price of $80 million per aircraft, the total backlog now stands at more than $3 billion and Aerion officials expect the backlog may go higher before the close of the EBACE Show.
“Just two and a half years ago our market research indicated a market for 300 supersonic jets over 10 years,” noted Aerion Vice Chairman Brian Barents, “but that survey did not even include demand from countries such as India, China and Russia. If anything, we have underestimated global demand.” Barents pointed to five orders secured by marketing agent ExecuJet in India alone as an indication of emerging market demand. Aerion has also secured orders in Pakistan, The Middle East, Europe, North America and South America. Barents pointed to growing demand at the top of the business jet market. A supersonic jet is now not far in price from subsonic alternatives, which is giving more companies an incentive to consider the Aerion jet.
Aerion continues in discussion with potential OEM partners as well as potential tier-one suppliers. Aerion has an exclusive agreement with Pratt & Whitney for the use of a new variant of its JT8D-219 engine, a member of the ubiquitous JT8D family, flat-rated to 19,600 pounds of thrust.
Aerion expects to reach an agreement with an OEM by year end, keeping the company on track to certify the supersonic jet as planned in 2014.
The rapidly growing order book has bolstered Aerion’s business case in discussions with potential partners. Aerion launched its sales effort in November 2007 at the Dubai Air Show, where it announced a marketing alliance with ExecuJet Aviation Group. ExecuJet offers the aircraft globally outside the Americas.
In March of this year, Aerion reached an agreement with AeroToyStore to represent the aircraft in Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America. Aerion represents the aircraft directly in the United States.
“We have teamed with sales representatives that are known and respected the world over,” said Barents. “They are among the most experienced in selling intercontinental jets, and their customers recognize and value this expertise.”
Technical progress continues as well. Aerion is conducting tests in an anechoic lab to evaluate noise characteristics of different nozzle configurations. Wind tunnel tests are planned for later this year to confirm results of configuration changes, as will large-scale inlet and nozzle tests. The company has previously stated that the Aerion jet will meet Stage 4/Chapter 4 noise requirements.
The company is also studying manpower requirements for full-scale development and exploring ways to accomplish the work in ways that allow the selected OEM to leverage its engineering capability most efficiently without significantly diluting its engineering resources.
Aerion will be at EBACE to meet with customers and potential program participants. “A lot of people are concluding Aerion will be the company to reintroduce supersonic civil flight,” said Barents. “We look forward to talking to them in Geneva.”
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