By RICK NEALE, floridatoday.com
Aerion Supersonic, which had touted plans to build a $375 million jet-building facility at Orlando Melbourne International Airport, abruptly announced Friday it was shutting down.
“The AS2 supersonic business jet program meets all market, technical, regulatory and sustainability requirements, and the market for a new supersonic segment of general aviation has been validated with $11.2 billion in sales backlog for the AS2,” a company statement released Friday afternoon said.
“However, in the current financial environment, it has proven hugely challenging to close on the scheduled and necessary large new capital requirements to finalize the transition of the AS2 into production,” the statement said.
“Given these conditions, the Aerion Corporation is now taking the appropriate steps in consideration of this ongoing financial environment,” the statement said.
Messages seeking comment were left for Tom Vice, president and CEO of Aerion Supersonic, and officials with the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast. Airport officials declined comment, citing the developing situation.
At an April 2020 news conference, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that the fledgling aerospace company had chosen Melbourne as the site of its future global headquarters — where it would assemble the world’s first privately built supersonic aircraft.
The project was expected to bring at least 675 high-wage jobs to the Space Coast by 2026, EDC officials announced.
Aerion is headquartered in Reno, Nevada, with a technologies division in Palo Alto, California, and a workforce of about 150. Roughly 25 workers manned a temporary Melbourne office at the airport-owned Aerospace Center off Apollo Boulevard.
The supersonic AS2 business jet was slated to cost $120 million per plane.
During a March FLORIDA TODAY interview, Vice said design planning was underway on Aerion’s $110-acre complex million global headquarters at the north side of the airport. He said construction had been expected to start later this year.
Vice also said Aerion had accumulated a backlog of orders topping $10 billion for its AS2 business jets — and the company was seeing “accelerating demand.”