THOUGHTS ON AVIATION
I LOVE GENERAL AVIATION, AND AVIATION INNOVATION IN GENERAL—AND PRETTY MUCH HATE AIRLINES’ APPROACH TO FLYING.
ENTER THE AERION SUPERSONIC BUSINESS JET
I haven’t written about aviation for a while so I guess I was suffering from withdrawal symptoms when I ran across a Business Week piece on the proposed new Aerion AS2 business jet. It is the brainchild of Texas billionaire, Robert Blass who has been squirrelling away at it—at vast cost—since 2000.
It strikes me as a much healthier use of his money than trying to buy up the U.S. political system (though he may be doing both for all I know). But, I digress.
Interestingly, the Aerion looks like actually happening. Firstly, there seems to a clearly defined market for such a thing (since businessman who can afford $110 million are no longer particularly rare) and secondly because in September 2014, Blass’s company signed a technology agreement with the Airbus Group who built the Concorde (retired in 2003). The first flight is targeted for 2019.
This is what Business Week has to say (an extract only). I love that magazine.
Allan McArtor, chief executive officer of Airbus’s U.S. unit and former head of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, says his company saw value in Aerion’s technology and predictive tools for airflow. “We want to get out ahead of the future,” he says. “We don’t want to get caught by surprise. We don’t want to read about it.”
Aerion projects the AS2 will shave more than 4 hours off the 10 hours and 25 minutes it now takes to fly from San Francisco to Tokyo, fueling demand for 600 such jets over a 20-year period—even at a price of $110 million a pop. “On a first-mover basis, there’s a pretty significant market there,” McArtor says, noting Aerion’s pioneer advantage: There won’t be room for four supersonic business jet makers.
From an environmental point of view, this is a horrible development—so I find myself seriously conflicted. On the one hand, I am seriously concerned about the environment—and regard flying as a serious threat to it (which it is). On the other hand, I love crazy aviation projects.
I guess my only honorable course of action is to delay buying an Aerion AS2 for a respectable period of time. It will take restraint, but sometimes we writers have to make sacrifices.
VOR words 407