Supersonic: The next renaissance in the global business jet industry

Son of former Gulfstream CEO Allen Paulson keeps his father's dream of an SSBJ alive with QSST-X design.

By J Michael Paulson
Founder & CEO
Supersonic Aerospace International

Artist's concept of the current QSST-X design shows the basic configuration now being pursued following a 5-year study at Lockheed Martin. This SSBJ aircraft has a longer cabin than the G650 and is being engineered to have a top cruise speed of Mach 1.8 along with a range goal of over 5000 nm. A very comfortable aft cabin and state-of-the-art flightdeck instrumentation will also be embodied.

As we enter 2014, I believe the question that aviation advocates in both business and government need to ask themselves is "What do we need to do to create a renaissance in the global business jet industry?" I believe the answer is obviously not doing the same by keeping the "status quo."

The 2013 market results released by the global business jet OEMs still show that the industry is anemic and still feeling the long-term effects of the 2008 global economic crisis.

Unfortunately, we all have read recent articles of several prominent aviation OEMs having to layoff many of their skilled workers due to a lack of interest and sales for their current models. The only bright spot in the marketplace in recent years has been the demand for the newly announced and developed large, ultra long-range business jets.

However, even though these new ultra long-range, large business jets provide more range, cabin space, updated flightdecks and a marginal increase in cruise speed, they still are flying in the subsonic flight regime that business jets have been stuck in for more than 50 years. In other words, the current business jet models are really only updated derivatives of their decades old original prototype models.

Quiet supersonic bizjets will be a quantum leap forward in aviation and business technology

Following in his famed father's footsteps, Michael Paulson wants to bring a supersonic business jet into fruition now. Convinced a market for the SSBJ exists, he believes supersonic air travel will be accepted for business use long ahead of service with airlines. Based on Allen Paulson's groundwork and embodying inputs from corporate pilots including Clay Lacy, he worked with Lockheed Martin on an advanced SSBJ design tagged the QSST that conquers the sonic boom.

I believe the solution for creating a renaissance and new excitement with business jet operators and the global aviation community is the development of a new revolutionary "quiet" supersonic business jet.

Supersonics will provide a quantum leap forward in aviation technology as the current models of business jets have surely reached their maturation in aerodynamic design.

While there has been considerable advancement in engines, systems and flightdecks, there really has been little advancement in subsonic aerodynamics over the last several decades.

Originally a dealer in refurbished aircraft parts, Allen Paulson later sold Learjets along with Clay Lacy and bought the Gulfstream division from Grumman. His aircraft acquisition became a world leader in business jets that now carry the world's top executives. In his later life he wanted to build a supersonic Gulfstream and he partnered with Sukhoi of Russia in that pursuit. Here he is with Pro Pilot Publisher Murray Smith who became a good friend and helped promote his SSBJ efforts.

For example, in recent years the last OEM holdouts finally conceded and are adding winglets (a technology originally designed in the 1970s) to their current business jet models. So I believe you can expect to only see diminutive advancements in any future models and derivatives of current subsonic business jet models.

But there is some good news. Many aviation industry leaders agree that developmental design maturation has likely been achieved in subsonic aircraft designs. They have publically stated that supersonics are likely the "next logical step" for the business jet industry.

I have read several interviews over the last few years where many aviation leaders have stated they have regrets that there still is not a supersonic business jet in service today, but they also believe the proviso for the next generation of business jets to be supersonic, they must be "virtually boomless" to be environmentally friendly and capable of receiving governmental approval for "quiet" transcontinental (overland) supersonic flight.

Supersonic overland flight capability and an environmentally friendly quiet design were goals at the forefront of our endeavor when I hired Lockheed Martin's famed Skunk Works design group in 2001 to complete an extensive Phase 1 feasibility design study. Our 5-year design study produced amazing results with a supersonic jet design, known as the QSST (Quiet SuperSonic Transport) capable of virtually boomless supersonic flight.

The QSST's advanced and revolutionary aerodynamics will make it "well over 100 times" quieter than the now retired Concorde supersonic airliner. This amazing design achievement by Lockheed Martin allows the QSST to be more than capable of receiving governmental approval for supersonic overland flight.

As shown in the accompanying artist graphics of the QSST, our attractive airframe design employs many advancements in aerodynamics, including a patented inverted v-tail that Lockheed Martin believes is essential for virtually boomless supersonic flight. Also, no unattractive and operationally challenging Pinocchio nose is needed in our advanced Lockheed Martin supersonic aircraft design.


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