After a long history of supersonic engines, Rolls-Royce Holding PLC is again working to power the latest series of supersonic aircraft with the use of advanced technology. It is expected that the company will provide engines for Aerion’s business jets which are slated to fly faster than the speed of sound. Based on a new order received from Flexjet, Aerion is expected to manufacture 20 of its AS2 supersonic business jets for $2.4 billion which may be equipped with Rolls-Royce engines. The aircraft manufacturer will work with Airbus to complete the construction of these new jets and is expected to deliver the first aircraft by the end of fiscal year 2021.
Rolls-Royce has a long history of manufacturing engines for Concorde, Tornade, and Typhoon. However, after a crash, Concorde aircraft’s operations were suspended in 2003. Aerion initially selected United Technologies’ Pratt & Whitney to deliver the engines; however due to changes in the size of the aircraft, the aircraft manufacturer dropped Pratt & Whitney.
With the support of new engines, the AS2 jets are expected to fly at a top speed of Mach 1.6 which is equivalent to 1,200 miles per hours. The aircraft would also fly as long as 5,000 miles. This will not be an easy task for the engine and aircraft manufacturer as both the companies will have to meet delivery timelines in order to be profitable. Furthermore, Rolls-Royce is also in a transition period to change the production line of its aircraft engine which might also pose a challenge for the company.
Alongside this, commercial aircraft are not allowed to fly faster than Mach 1 at which speed the aircraft creates a sonic boom. The company is currently working on ways to limit this boom with the help of the latest technology, since the aircraft has to comply with noise and sonic boom regulations.
Chris Young, Rolls-Royce president of civil small and medium engines, commented in a press release “We are in discussion with airframe partners all the time, and we often carry out joint design studies and other technical assessments.”
On the other hand, Doug Nichols Aerion’s chief executive remains confident that the aerospace industry will demand supersonic jets sooner or later and would pay as much as $100 million for such aircraft.