Aerion has not yet been able to secure an industry partner to develop and build its supersonic business jet (SBJ), but the company says there is growing demand for its natural laminar-flow (NLF) design tools, which have been honed by windtunnel and other testing in support of the SBJ.Concept: Aerion
At this week's EBACE European business-aviation show in Geneva, the company is launching its Aerion Technologies service to offer aircraft manufacturers its NLF engineering experience to produce faster, more efficient subsonic designs.
Drag-reducing laminar flow is of increasing interest as aircraft designers seek to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, and major research efforts are under way with NASA in the US and the Clean Sky program in Europe.
Natural laminar flow is the key to Aerion's SBJ, allowing the aircraft to cruise as efficiently subsonicially over land as it does supersonically over water, avoiding the severe drag penalty that made Concorde so expensive to operate.
While Aerion's work has focused on supersonic NLF, it says the same proprietary design tools that enable a practical SBJ can be a "game-changer" in subsonic and transonic applications. As it has worked to attract industrial partners to launch development of the SBJ, so far without success, Aerion has amassed an unrivalled portfolio of NLF windtunnel and flight-test data it believes can help manufacturers improve the efficiency of their designs.
Aerion says it has developed the computational fluid-dynamics programs that allow NLF configurations to be rapidly analyzed and assessed, as well as the criteria for manufacturing and operating aircraft so that the laminar-flow drag benefits can be realized. Making its design tools available to manufacturers will allow them to short-circuit the long process of developing in-house NLF expertise, Aerion argues.