HyperMach’s SonicStar: The most ambitious business jet ever


Manufacturers often use shows to make new product announcements, but the launch of HyperMach's SonicStar at the Paris Airshow surprised many. But can they really build a jet that flies at Mach 3.5 and sells for $160 million?

New business jet company HyperMach is, quite literally, promising the world.

HyperMach SonicStar

Hypermach, which has launched a high speed business jet called the SonicStar, says owners will be able to get from New York to Sydney in five hours. It says passengers will be able to leave London at 9AM and be in New York in time for breakfast. In fact, it will travel so fast that they will be able to fly between New York and Dubai in the time it takes to watch one in-flight movie.

HyperMach says these flight times will be achievable because the SonicStar will travel at up to Mach 3.5. It will fly at 62,000 feet powered by an innovative new engine the S-MAGJET 4000X designed by sister company SonicBlue.

And it says the first SonicStar will fly in 10 years.

Judith Moreton, executive vice president, global sales and marketing, accepts that the timing is ambitious. However, she says that HyperMach has been working on computer designs and modelling for over eight years and that the speed claims are real. HyperMach is also planning to partner with existing manufacturers to build the Sonic Star. “It is the only way we could create the project on time,” says Moreton. She says that they are hoping to build the engines in the UK and the aircraft in Europe.

“We want to break the last barrier in business aviation: speed. The business aviation market has resolved everything else except speed,” says Moreton.

She says that if the Sonic Cruiser was available now it would be for sale at between $150 million and $160 million per aircraft.

“It will be a very expensive aircraft and that sort of price tag it means that it is unlikely that our customers will be airlines and unlikely that they will corporates,” she says. “We are targeting the super-rich.”

Boeing cancelled a planned high speed aircraft called the Sonic Cruiser in 2002 saying that airlines were more interested in fuel efficiency. The US manufacturer was aiming for a speed of Mach 0.98.

Although Moreton says they have been contacted by potential customers they will not start actively selling the aircraft or ask for deposits until they have a flying prototype. “We want to prove that we are selling is real,” she says.

Funding Hypermach

Although the company is offering individual investors the right to buy into the project for as little as £100 ($160) Moreton says this is a very small part of its financing plans.

HyperMach is planning six financing rounds. It is looking for $15 million now and hoping to close this first round in six months. HyperMach Inc, the US sister company, has already received some investment which funded the early computer modelling. It is also involved in looking at ways the engine could be used by the US military.

Backing a new aircraft is risky, early investors in Adam Air,the SJ30 and Eclipse all lost money. Supersonic flight is even riskier. Existing manufactures have questioned the demand for jets. HyperMach also faces completion from Aerion Corporation which was formed in 2002 to produce a supersonic business jet. Aerion says it has recieved 40 returnable deposits, worth $4 billion.

Whilst some have been sceptical about the project, Moreton says a lot of people have been encouraging about the SonicStar. “There is not a lot that is truly exciting in business aviation at the moment and this is so unique and so different to everything else out there,” she says. “This is going to happen at some point so why not now?”

The HyperMach team

Richard Lugg, founder chief executive and chairman of the Board, HyperMach Aerospace Inc

Lugg also serves as the CEO and chief scientist of SonicBlue Aerospace, which will produce the S-MAGJETengines to power the SonicStar.

He worked on the NASA X-43 Program and the NASA High Speed Civil Transport Program. Lugg was also a senior vice president at consultancy Arthur D. Little.

Bernard Rousset, chief operations & technology officer

Rousset worked as the operational deployment manager at Capgemini for the A350 XWB. He has managed a range of Airbus projects with a particular focus on digital mock-up, architecture.

He set up Alliance Aeronautique in 2006, bringing together four of the main providers of structural parts to Airbus.

Judith Moreton, executive vice president, global sales and marketing

Moreton has worked in a range of roles from check-in to being UK general manager of Virgin Express Airlines.

She was managing director of Bombardier Skyjet where she grew sales from $16 million in 2002 to $90 million in 2008. Moreton launched Little Blue Private Jets, a specialist consultancy, last year.

She was awarded a European Business Aviation Award in 2007.

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