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Supersonic jet maker gets big shot in the arm

Supersonic jet maker gets big shot in the arm

Aerion Corp plans to sell as much as $200 million in debt as it teams up with Lockheed Martin Corp to build a private jet that flies faster than the speed of sound.

It’s the first time Aerion, backed by Texas billionaire Robert Bass, has sought outside financing for its AS2 supersonic jet, a project the company has been working on since 2003. The aspiring planemaker hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc to help with a debt sale that could take place within a month, said Brian Barents, executive chairman of Aerion.

“Initially we’re going to be looking at somewhere around $150 million to $200 million that would get us through to the preliminary design phase, which would be about two years out,” he said in a telephone interview. The financing will be a big step forward for the $4 billion project to produce the world’s first supersonic business jet. Aerion has already enlisted General Electric Co to design an engine exclusively for the plane.

“The team aims to make the jet’s first flight in 2023,” Barents said. Non-military aircraft haven’t flown faster than Mach I — the speed of sound — since the Concorde stopped service in 2003. “Aerion will begin taking orders from customers now and their deposits will contribute to financing development,” Barents said. “Aerion would consider taking on equity partners as well.” The company expects there’s demand for 300 aircraft over a decade.  Source: Bangkok Post

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