Supersonic Jet Market Booming
They may be well beyond the scope of the average businessman, but supersonic business jets are fast becoming hot property. With the ever-increasing demand for fast business jets, the market for small supersonic jets has exploded. Most of the major aircraft companies are gearing up for the demand by developing their own range of small super-fast jets and, despite massive price tags, it would seem consumers are lining up to purchase them.
When considering supersonic aircraft it helps if one keeps in mind that the speed of sound is about 1 235 km/h and this is called Mach 1. After many years of service the first supersonic jet, the Concorde, was retired. Fears about the noise pollution and considerable costs involved in running this aircraft contributed considerably to this step. But it would seem these problems are no longer as large as they once were. Cutting edge design has limited the severity of the sonic boom caused by breaking the sound barrier, and better parts, materials and construction combined with a decrease in overall size means lower running costs and a smaller price tag. Lockheed’s Skunkworks division is taking the lead in the supersonic field with the development of their Quiet Supersonic Transport (QSST). The aircraft not only looks hi-tech with its gull-wing design, but it is capable of a top speed of Mach 1.8. The QSST’s airframe design ensures that the sonic boom is broken up by a wave of pressure that sweeps over the aircraft as it breaks the sound barrier. The advancement in design means that the aircraft is inaudible from the ground.
But Lockheed isn’t the only company investing time and money in supersonic jet development. Aerion Corporation is not far behind with a business jet capable of reaching Mach 1.6. The aircraft has already proven to be wildly popular with approximately 40 people emptying their pockets to make a sizeable down payment on the $80-million plane. Cessna is also ensuring that it gets a slice of the pie with the development of the Cessna Citation X. A slightly slower aircraft, the Citation X hits Mach 0.92 when it takes to the skies. Gulfstream Aerospace is busy developing the G650 which reaches Mach 0.925. Scheduled for delivery in 2012, the G650 costs about $60 million and has already generated a very big response.
Despite the fact that there is a growing demand for supersonic jets, one still has to think about environmental concerns and high fuel consumption when considering the purchase of such a jet. Despite developments in the field these are still concerns that warrant attention. For now, however, it would seem that the need for speed outweighs these problems.