More than 30 Flexjet customers who spend $5 million a year with the aircraft fractional ownership company said they would love to have access to Aerion’s supersonic business jet. That was enough for Flexjet Chairman Kenn Ricci to cough up more than $1 million—he wouldn’t say how much—for a favored position with options for 20 aircraft.
Ricci said his endorsement helps Aerion launch its AS2, a 175-foot-long, Mach 1.5 jet. He recalled a similar deal he made for an airplane that was never built, and all he had to show for his investment of more than $1 million was a model airplane.
The speed of Mach 1.5 is the aircraft’s top speed. Ricci believes Aerion’s sonic boom would not reach the ground, enabling it to fly overland routes in countries that have restricted such flights. He was quizzed about where he would station the as-yet-unbuilt eight- to 12-passenger jet. He noted the jet is so long, twice as long as a top Gulfstream model, that you can’t park it at many airports. It needs space to turn around, he said.
While he might lose his initial investment, customers who answered his survey have not yet invested money. He has been told by Aerion officials to expect a first delivery in 2023. Customers are not buying shares in the AS2, but rather are buying “access,” Ricci said.