Aerion AS2
Despite an $11.2 billion backlog for its AS2 supersonic business jet, Aerion Corp. couldn't raise enough funding to bring the AS2 to production, causing it to cease operations on May 21, 2021. (Photo: Aerion Corp)

Supersonic Bizjet Developer Aerion Halts Operations

The company, which had collected orders worth $11.2 billion, blames its shutdown on lack of sufficient financing.

Aerion Corp. has ceased operations, citing a lack of sufficient financing for its plans to bring a family of supersonic aircraft to market. In a statement, the company said it had built an $11.2 billion order backlog for the first of that family, the Mach 1.2 AS2 business jet, but “in the current financial environment, it has proven hugely challenging to close on the scheduled and necessary large new capital requirements to finalize the transition of the AS2 into production. Given these conditions, the Aerion Corporation is now taking the appropriate steps in consideration of this ongoing financial environment.”

The move comes less than six months after Aerion broke ground on a $300 million, two-million-square-foot headquarters complex at Florida’s Orlando Melbourne International Airport. It also follows a series of announcements detailing firmed-up supplier relationships for the AS2, ranging from Honeywell to Collins Aerospace and Spirit AeroSystems. These came in addition to a deal with engine-maker GE Aviation.

The supersonic developer also had scored major orders and letters of intent from business jet operators, including Flexjet and NetJets. “Flexjet ordered its AS2s from Aerion Supersonic in 2015 and the company has been a supporter of the program since then," said Kenn Ricci, principal at Flexjet parent Directional Aviation. "We were particularly impressed with the recent design changes and innovations generated by [Aerion chairman, president, and CEO] Tom Vice and his current team. While we are disappointed to hear from the company that they are ceasing operations, we understand the vast investment required by such programs to bring them to fruition and the inherent risks involved.”

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Aerion planned to begin production in 2023, with first flight following in the middle of the decade. Meanwhile, in March it teased plans for the larger, near-hypersonic AS3 airliner, as well as collaborations with NASA on those technologies.

Aerion did not elaborate on its future beyond the statement. “The Aerion Corporation has assembled a world-class team of employees and partners, and we are very proud of our collective efforts to realize a shared vision of revolutionizing global mobility with sustainable supersonic flight,” the statement said. “Since our company’s formation, our team has created disruptive new innovations plus leading-edge technologies and intellectual property."