Aerion AS2
In a surprise announcement on February 5, Boeing has partnered with Aerion on the AS2 supersonic business jet and also made a "significant investment" in the Reno, Nevada company. (Photo: Aerion Corp.)

Boeing Bets Big, Partners With Aerion

Boeing recently announced a partnership with Aerion Corp. and further made a “significant,” but undisclosed, investment in the Reno, Nevada–based supersonic business jet (SSBJ) developer that aims to “accelerate technology development and aircraft design, and unlock supersonic air travel for new markets.” This alliance apparently replaces Lockheed Martin as Aerion’s aircraft manufacturing partner—a development that, when announced in December 2017, displaced Airbus from this central position. Under the new agreement, Boeing will provide engineering, manufacturing, and flight-test resources, as well as strategic vertical content, for Aerion’s AS2 SSBJ.

Aerion AS2

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Aerion AS2

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The move also resulted in a major shake-up of Aerion’s board of directors, with Boeing now holding two seats and billionaire backer, and now former chairman, Robert Bass departing. Boeing’s contingent on the board consists of Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president of product strategy and future airplane development Mike Sinnett and Boeing Global Services vice president of supply chain Ken Shaw. Meanwhile, Tom Vice, who was elevated at Aerion to president and CEO in August, has added the title of chairman.

Notably, the change in manufacturing partners does not affect the timeline for the Mach 1.4 AS2, with first flight still slated for 2023, nor does it affect Aerion’s decision to use the GE Aviation Affinity engine to power the aircraft.

Business aviation analyst and JetNet iQ managing director Rollie Vincent said today’s announcement was “completely unexpected,” but added, “If you’re going to have a partner, there’s no one better than Boeing. If anyone has the resources to bring a supersonic jet to market, it’s Boeing.”

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