Skip to main content
Supersonic Flight

Power Play: Jet Engines Won’t Be The Only GE Tech Powering New Civilian Supersonic Jet

Tomas Kellner
December 16, 2019
It’s been 16 years since the Concorde landed for the last time and the iconic supersonic jet became a coveted museum exhibit. But engineers working on civilian supersonic jets are nowhere near ready to give up on their dreams. If you listen to them, we’re about to enter an era where quieter and more fuel-efficient supersonic jets will again zip across the sky.
Early in February, Boeing announced it would partner with Aerion Supersonic, a Nevada company that has spent the last two decades developing a supersonic business jet called the AS2. Scheduled to fly for the first time in 2023, the plane will carry as many as 12 passengers as fast as 1,000 miles per hour, or Mach 1.4. That’s 40% faster than the speed of sound, and 70% faster than most of today’s business jets. The plane could cut a transatlantic flight by three hours, and a journey across the Pacific Ocean by five hours. GE Aviation is building the engine for the plane.

And this week, Aerion announced that it’s also working with GE to build the AS2’s electrical power system, which will manage power distribution and load to supply avionics and other systems on the jet. "We conducted an extensive trade study, analyzing several providers and multiple power generation and distribution architectures," said Aerion CEO Tom Vice. “As a result, we have selected GE Aviation as our partner for the AS2 electrical power system. We are excited to expand our outstanding relationship with GE.”

GE has deep expertise in building power systems for jets. Its engineers designed backup generators for Boeing’s new 777X passenger airliner, for example — airborne power plants that use the plane’s jet engines to produce electricity. GE also developed the GE9X, the world’s most powerful jet engine, for the plane. This generator, in turn, builds on designs GE originally developed for the F/A-18 Hornet supersonic fighter jets and other military planes.

Top image credit: The AS2 will use a pair of GE's Affinity supersonic jet engines. GE will also design the plane's electrical power system. Image credit: Aerion.