Going nowhere fast

Supersonic debate

Work on one of the most promising civil supersonic projects – Aerion’s AS2 – recently came to a premature end. David Willis explains where it all went wrong


London Heathrow Airport, October 24, 2023: Standing in front of a row of hangars is a large group of onlookers eagerly watching as a sleek trijet slowly approaches along the taxiway. The aircraft, which looks like a product of George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Magic and wouldn’t be out of place in an episode of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s TV series Thunderbirds, comes to a halt and shuts down its engines. As the scream of its powerplants wind down, the cabin door opens and a man in a sharp suit disembarks and steps up to the microphone bearing the word ’Aerion’ to address the waiting press. “Well, we made it. After 20 years, supersonic air travel is back!”

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