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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Jet card providers NetJets and Flexjet have both expressed interest in the Aerion AS2 supersonic business jet. Flexjet placed an order for 20 of the aircraft back in 2015 and NetJets recently obtained purchase rights for 20 planes.

Supersonic AS2

The mach 1.4 Aerion AS2 is still in development but is expected to be the first supersonic aircraft to enter commercial service in over 50 years. Last year it completed high and low speed wind tunnel testing, amassing hundreds of simulated flight hours. Production is planned to start in 2023 at the factory in Melbourne, Florida. But even then, it is likely to be a few years before final certification.

The current design, shown below, will have seating for up to 12 and a supersonic range of 4,200nm or 5,400nm at subsonic speeds. At a sticker price of $120m each, it will be significantly more expensive than other current business jets, which typically top out at around $65m to $70m.
Aerion says that it has AS2 orders for more than USD $10 billion.

AS2 supersonic jet

Jet Card Providers

Neither NetJets nor Flexjet have said whether they will make these supersonic aircraft available in their jet card programs.

NetJets is the largest private aviation company in the world, with more than 760 aircraft worldwide. Adam Johnson, Chairman and CEO of NetJets Inc. said “Together, we will be exploring the integration of the AS2 supersonic business jet into NetJets’ global network.” NetJets has eleven different aircraft in its current fleet from Phenom 300 light jets to ultra-long rage Bombardier 7500, and offers jet cards on seven of these models across all cabin sizes.

Flexjet offers jet cards on the Phenom 300 light jet and the Challenger 300 super mid-size jet. The other aircraft in its fleet are available in its fractional, lease, corporate and world access programs.

Flexjet says travelers will be able to use the AS2, as well as the Global Express, G650, and G500, through the company’s Global Access membership program. The program has been in place for the last year, with Flexjet working closely with intercontinental travelers to fine tune the service, providing the best possible flexibility, prices, and availability.

Set Jet, a membership-based private jet charter flight program, also placed a recent order for two AS2 supersonic business jets.

So it’s not clear at the moment if we’ll see jet card programs with supersonic aircraft. Given these new planes are likely to be used a lot on trans-oceanic routes across the Atlantic and jet cards tend to be predominantly domestic focused, then we may have to wait a while. 

Editorial Update: Since this article was published Aerion abruptly announced that it was closing down. This was rather a surprise for the aviation industry, since they have been in development for many years, and had established multiple partnerships. But it also shows that the costs for developing new aircraft are very high. running into many billions of dollars.

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