Certifying new aircraft is hard! That’s probably the best single thing I can say to start off this section of TMB’s project plan.
Numerous groups have assembled, tried and failed. Some have failed repeatedly, never failing to give up seeking new fresh investment to keep the dream alive. Some have failed so persistently, that they eventually succeeded.
Let’s list some examples… Adam Aircraft, with their A700 and the Adamjet. Bankrupt, ceased operations.
The Chichester Miles Leopard, an innovative light personal jet – bankrupt, ceased operations.
The Edgley Optica, an innovative surveillance and law enforcement aircraft – bankrupt, ceased operations.
OK this is getting depressing, they can’t all be this bad can they? These were all small startups with very little capital behind them to sustain a full development campaign – some managed to get prototypes built, even certified some – Edgley’s facility even burnt down in a case of suspected arson.
What about Piper with their Piperjet? Cancelled.
What about Hawker Beechcraft with their Hawker Horizon (Later named the Hawker 4000). Cancelled. Nevermind the Starship.
Cessna with the Citation Columbus? Cancelled… but only just… the Columbus spirit lives on in the Citation Hemisphere now. Don’t mention the Skycatcher.
Bombardier with the Learjet 85? Cancelled, in favour of the Global 7000 – the cuckoo which shoved the smaller Learjet out of the nest.
Eclipse, with the Eclipse 500 VLJ? I’ve lost count of how many times this company have gone bankrupt, the state of New Mexico must be fed up with handing out rescue bursaries to save the jobs in Albuqerque.
What about Swearingen/Emivest and the SJ-30 ‘Syberjet’, I’m not even sure who owns this company now it’s changed hands so frequently, but some are flying – Morgan Freeman owns one even.
Piaggio with the P1XX jet? Stillborn – they struggled enough just to keep Avanti’s rolling out the door. Their owner Tata unsurprisingly got cold feet.
Cirrus with their Cirrusjet? This has only just received certification and is on the up, finally.
And finally Hondajet, with their VLJ which has been under continuous development by Michimasa Fujino for nearly 25 years, also now finally certified and a few now being delivered at a trickle – but conveniently bankrolled by one of the world’s largest car companies, and unlikely to break even for the next 25 years. (Without that unwavering funding, no investor would have stayed the course with the Hondajet.)
Based on the above then, it is with trepidation that we approach the claims of would-be Supersonic manufacturers Aerion and Boom, who say they will have their as-yet unbuilt aircraft certified by the early to mid 2020’s.
That’s 8 years – to design, build and certify a supersonic transport. What was Hondajet again? 25 years. OK, in today’s strict airworthiness certification environment it takes a very long time to accomplish anything – let’s look at a legacy example. Concorde? 22 years.
Maybe Aerion and Boom must know something we don’t – but this is why the ‘Grassroots SST’ concept is planned to be based on an existing airframe, re-using off-the-shelf parts where-ever possible, hopefully shaving years and $millions off the development of our aircraft.
Let’s start with the basics.
To save the myriad hypotheticals, let’s provisionally assume that the build/integration location is in my present domicile, the UK.
It’s of course worth noting that aircraft-certification favorable conditions would exist for a project of this sort in places such as the Mojave desert where Scaled Composite have long been based, or Jose dos Campos in Brazil where Embraer are based, and numerous others, but let’s stick with the UK to limit the scope of the thought exercise on which we’re embarking.
To build our aircraft, we need real estate – a large square footage production facility, on the edge of an airfield with a 2 mile runway.
Ex-military installations lend themselves very well to our purposes – the Aston Martin factory in St Athan being one noteworthy example, where large ex-military Hangars on the ex of a demobbed RAF base are to be turned into an auto production facility – We want something just like that.
The Aston Martin St Athan factory is possibly on a scale greater than TMB would need for the limited scale of production in terms of quantity, but it is an excellent example of what can be found, along the lines of our needs.
The Non-Recurring Costs