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Spike S-512 could be the world's first supersonic business jet

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December 26, 2013

Spike Aerospace's S-512 is a supersonic business jet designed to travels at speeds of up t...

Spike Aerospace's S-512 is a supersonic business jet designed to travels at speeds of up to Mach 1.8

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With the Cessna Citation X set to receive FAA certification in early 2014 and knock the Gulfstream G650 off it's world's fastest civilian aircraft perch thanks to its maximum operating speed of Mach 0.935, Boston-based Spike Aerospace is looking to leave both those aircraft in its wake with its S-512. Spike says its S-512 will be the world's first supersonic business jet, boasting a cruising speed of Mach 1.6, and a maximum speed of Mach 1.8.

The Spike team, made up of engineers with experience at Gulfstream, Eclipse and Airbus, has spent the last couple of years designing the Spike S-512. Initially to be targeted at business users for whom time is money, the aircraft is designed to carry a maximum of up to 18 passengers in the luxury befitting an aircraft with an estimated price tag of between US$60 to $80 million.

The company says the Mach 1.6 to 1.8 speed capabilities of the aircraft will translate to a flight from New York to London taking three to four hours instead of six to seven, and the 14 to 16 hour flight time for a Los Angeles to Tokyo flight cut to eight hours.

Front angle view of the Spike S-512 supersonic jet design

Although the aircraft is still at the design and development stage and specifications are still subject to change, Spike currently says the S-512 will have a maximum range of 4,000 nautical miles (4,600 miles/7,400 km). The current design sees the aircraft measuring 131 ft long (40 m), with a wingspan of 60 ft (18 m), and cabin measuring 40 ft (12 m) long, 6.2 ft (2 m) high and 6.2 ft wide.

With potential problems surrounding the sonic boom, which severely limited the market for the Concorde, the Spike team acknowledges that reducing this to acceptable levels to ensure the S-512 meets FAA regulations surrounding sonic booms will be a major challenge. If it can overcome this and other problems, the company hopes the make the first deliveries of the S-512 in December 2018

The company has been playing its cards relatively close to its chest until now, but promises to release more information early in 2014.

The video below introduces the Spike S-512.

Source: Spike Aerospace

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
29 Comments

How do they expect to balance this? Even if the engines were mounted at the very end, it will likely be very nose heavy with the wings so far aft. It may need Canards and/or F18 type Leading Edge Root Extensions(LERX).

David Armour
27th December, 2013 @ 03:47 am PST

I don't know technical issues much, but I would sure buy one if I had like 100 mil lying around.

But I would pay more if it looker like SR 71. Given all other aspects remain constant. This does not look cool enough for 2013/2014.

Vikas Vimal
27th December, 2013 @ 08:18 am PST

Is there some reason the Concorde is not counted as a supersonic business jet?

Victor Engel
27th December, 2013 @ 08:44 am PST

Thought the same thing - stall speed very high unless some non-visible mechanism creates balance/lift at the front of the aircraft.

Mirmillion
27th December, 2013 @ 08:48 am PST

Or you could buy a Gulfstream G650 for the same price and cruise at M 0.9+, have twice the range and fly in comfort and luxury with greater cross-sectional area and head room. One of the problems with the Concorde was that for the same price you could either fly fast and be cramped (it was an incredibly small cabin and felt like coach) or take the time and fly in first class. Which will matter more to those that can afford such a vehicle: speed or luxury?

JDJacob
27th December, 2013 @ 08:54 am PST

The Concorde carried 100 passengers and flew with load rates of 70%+. A tragic accident in 2000 and then 9/11 led to the Concorde's cancellation in 2003. But demand for supersonic travel and willingness to pay for premium tickets was well established. It is about time for a next generation Concorde.

The Concorde was designed in the 1960s with slide rules and built just a few years after AT&Ts Princess telephone. Since then, there have been a lot of new technologies in composites, engines and avionics. These can be used to increase fuel efficiency, reduce noise and improve safety.

David: In this aircraft, the center of gravity is a function of the positioning of the fuel tanks. It is controlled during flight by regulating fuel consumption from each tank.

Victor: In this case, business jets are considered aircraft with less than 20 passengers or under a certain max weight. The Concorde with 100 passengers was considered an airliner.

JDJacob: good question. Is time more important than luxury?

Spike Aerospace
27th December, 2013 @ 09:25 am PST

@ Mirmillion

Balance issues do not notably affect stall speed.

@ JDJacob

For hours in coach or eight in first class? No contest; coach.

Slowburn
27th December, 2013 @ 09:53 am PST

With time and luxury, it's not an either/or situation. Small business aircraft, that are extremely cramped, sell well because the flight times are short, so it seems the degree of comfort desired is a function of flight time.

Operating cost is another factor that seems to be missing, and supersonic aircraft will be much more expensive to operate. It would be interesting to have an extended exchange with business leaders comparing the comfort and economy possible with a blended wing/body subsonic aircraft to the shorter flight time of a narrow-bodied, fuel-hungry supersonic.

Pat Kelley
27th December, 2013 @ 10:17 am PST

The wing does not look at all like a supersonic wing. Supersonic wings are typically swept back quite a bit. Even aircraft that fly close to the speed of sound have swept wings. This wing has a somewhat straight planform that would be good for low speed flight.

The landing gear seems unnecessarily tall. Gear that tall wouldn't be able to fold back into a the wing as shown. Look at the head-on rendering. The wing is impossibly thin. The strut of the landing gear is thicker than the wing itself. The rear landing gear looks like it folds inward so that the wheels end up inside the fuselage. However, the wheels are cartoonishly large. No way they would fit. The landing gear doors in the front are ridiculously small. Their small size suggest that the front gear telescopes straight down, from underneath the cockpit area. Again, there is no way they could fit there.

As far as the center of gravity is concerned, I actually do think the plane could balance in the configuration shown. Remember that even a full cabin is still mostly empty space. The engines are big chunks of metal that are much more dense than the rest of the aircraft.

All things considered, I think this is a badly done "artist's concept" of a futuristic plane from the 1960s.

BenH
27th December, 2013 @ 11:14 am PST

Hey Ben - I really hope that you are joking. I can assure you that those wings are superbly designed as an aerodynamic compromise between fuel efficient (relatively speaking) supersonic flight and high transonic flight speeds. If you think that all supersonic wings are heavily swept, I refer you to the F104.

As for the undercarriage, although this is obviously an artist's impression, the angle of attack at take-off and landing in an aircraft of this nature will likely be extremely high, hence the need for a rather elongated landing gear.

Robt
27th December, 2013 @ 12:35 pm PST

BenH: Take a good look at the Lockheed F-104 wing. Non-swept and extremely thin. Mach 2 plus.

Raymond Walker
27th December, 2013 @ 01:19 pm PST

maybe redo design for plane, have jets near CG position

make widebody alone

Ideal for small cargo use for FedEx worldwide use

Id fly in this.

Give it modified F22 engines.

Stephen N Russell
27th December, 2013 @ 02:19 pm PST

I can't help but roll my eyes when reading these comments. They have actual engineers with past experience working on it, and yet you all seem to think you know more then they do. you don't.

As for the aircraft, its not bad looking, and i'm sure it can hit it's predicted speed, but quieting the boom has always been the challenge Nasa has done a lot of study in this field over the years, so I hope they have been getting access to all of the info NASA has learned.

Every couple years I read an article about "concord's replacement", they never make it into production. I hope this one is different, someone needs to shake things up...and it's obviously not going to be Boeing or Airbus.

Derek Howe
27th December, 2013 @ 04:10 pm PST

@ BenH

Consider that the landing bay doors are usually made up of 2 or more pieces with only one open when the gear is down and locked. The main gear clearly would fold into the fuselage.

The plane looks like it was inspired by the F-104. I hope the engineers design a leading edge high lift device that rotates a razor sharp leading edge down presenting a high lift profile.

Slowburn
27th December, 2013 @ 04:26 pm PST

Bonanza tail wings! What could possibly go wrong?

Bruce H. Anderson
27th December, 2013 @ 04:51 pm PST

With only 15-20 passengers I'm afraid the air fair would be quite high

melsin
28th December, 2013 @ 05:37 am PST

The problem with selling a supersonic airliner is that it must be profitable flying subsonic routes.

@ Bruce H. Anderson

Bonanza's killed Amateur pilots that were highly accomplished in other fields.

Fly-by-wire systems remove the problem that are created by V-tails.

Slowburn
28th December, 2013 @ 08:38 am PST

I wonder if there is a market for a supersonic unmanned cargo plane?

Don Duncan
28th December, 2013 @ 04:56 pm PST

Why not simply take Concorde's design and shrink it? It seemed to be a pretty solid platform, served well, and had supercruise capabilities. Just open up the cabin a little bit more and presto. I may be oversimplifying this...

Or are they over complicating it? I agree though, it looks like a half-arsed artist's sketch.

Richard J. Auchus
28th December, 2013 @ 10:38 pm PST

1) This is not for commercial flight. Even if the words "business jet" weren't in the title of the article, an aircraft with this form factor screams "private."

2) Unless you're an aeronautical engineer with 10 or 20 years experience, please don't comment on how features of a plane still in the R&D phase are bad/dumb/unsafe/etc. The engineering team building this plane knows more than you do and they still have a lot of computer simulation, wind tunnel testing, and tweaks to make before they even get to building a full-scale protortype.

3) Why is everyone bunching their panties over the supersonic aspect? L.A. to Tokyo, New York to London, and any other route that crosses an ocean will be supersonic over thousands of miles of barren ocean. Stay at Mach 0.9 until the plane is well over the water and there's no problem.

Supersonic New York to Los Angeles, however...that's probably not going to happen. The great circle route between those two cities covers a lot of densely inhabited areas of the country and I don't see the FAA dislodging the tree branch in its collective rectum enough to ever let any civilian perform a sustained supersonic flight over populated areas.

With that in mind, this jet is really aimed at people who suffer through a lot of trans-Atlantic or trans-Pacific travel and billionaires who just simply have to have an expensive toy. There's always money to be made from those segments of the population, so Spike will be fine as long as they can successfully navigate the hoops set up for them by the FAA.

Justin Chamberlin
29th December, 2013 @ 08:23 am PST

Why do they call them "business jets"?

ezeflyer
29th December, 2013 @ 05:42 pm PST

Looks OK to me, but with the communications available nowadays - and continual improvements in things like video conferencing etc - can the value of face-to-face and a real handshake beat the cost of such a flight?

The Skud
29th December, 2013 @ 05:50 pm PST

Robt and Raymond Walker,

I'm not sure that the F-104 should be held up as a good example of the design. It did have a pretty bad safety record compared with other jets. In fact, many people would say the Starfighter was the worst design Kelly Johnson brought out.

Gadgeteer
29th December, 2013 @ 05:54 pm PST

@ Richard J. Auchus

Delta wings have lousy low speed performance because the way they control pitch is incompatible with high lift devices.

@ The Skud

It is difficult to listen in on conversations that take place in a secure Faraday cage that is in a sound proof room.

@ Gadgeteer

A lot of the F-104 crashes were the result of 1, insufficiently trained pilots being put into it. The US Army Air Forces also killed a lot of young pilots putting them into the P-38, P-47s, and P-51 directly out of T-6 trainers. 2, flight operations in Germany requiring a radio frequency change right after takeoff and the F-104's radio's control were awkwardly located.

Slowburn
30th December, 2013 @ 08:31 pm PST

It would appear that the easiest way to deal with the ground level sonic boom is to just fly high enough that the shock cone does not reach the ground.

Slowburn
3rd January, 2014 @ 10:47 am PST

Slowburn - That would mean, for an aircraft like Concorde, flying at an altitude of 50 miles.

Though broadly speaking you are correct, flying higher has the effect of reducing the severity of a sonic boom.

mommus
6th January, 2014 @ 09:12 am PST

@ mommus

The shock cone is not near as big as you think.

Slowburn
8th January, 2014 @ 09:51 am PST

Looks pretty similar to the Aerion SBJ, same speed and same engines. Not sure if that single piece window would work. And the wings look like they'd perform badly at low speed, so take off and landing would be tricky.

PJEC
12th January, 2014 @ 11:00 am PST

Could a supersonic business jet like this operate out of smaller regional airport runways, or would it need a '747' length runway for take off and landing?

Jim Walker
25th May, 2014 @ 12:36 am PDT
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