Zero-carbon supersonic business jet development to take 15 – 20 years: Spike


Spike Aerospace, designers of the upcoming S-512 supersonic business jet, says that it will take between 15 and 20 years to develop a supersonic business jet that will produce zero carbon emissions.

Vik Kachoria, CEO, Spike Aerospace, made the remarks in a press release following a press release from Boom, which is developing a supersonic airliner, in which Boom reaffirmed its commitment to the environment by saying the its aircraft will be carbon neutral.

The Spike Aerospace is currently in the process of testing subsonic sub-scale aircraft, which produce zero carbon emissions thanks to being electric powered. However, despite the testing, Kachoria says that a zero-carbon supersonic long-range aircraft will likely take 15-25 years to develop.

“I hesitated sending out the zero-carbon supersonic [email] because we’ve talked about that for a while, and every aircraft company is doing the same thing. We are all very conscious of the environment and are under public pressure to reduce emissions,” says Kachoria. “We are all citizens of this world; we all have kids and families. And it’s very easy to make a statement, it’s very easy for anybody to send out a press release like I just did, but where’s the proof?”

Kachoria says that for Spike, the “minor proof” is that the company flew a sub-scale electric demonstrator aircraft two years ago.

Despite that work, Kachoria says it won’t be possible to have an electric supersonic aircraft just yet. “It’s something that we would love to do, and we are working on it,” he says. “We have some partners that we are talking to about it. Like our competitors and all other companies, we are working towards electric.”

Current work on electric aircraft has centred around smaller, short-range battery-powered aircraft, and whilst the use of batteries is suited for use on those aircraft, Kachoria says that they aren’t suitable for long-range supersonic flights.

“There are a lot of very interesting developments going on. I’m sure you are familiar with some of the battery technologies, but there are other technologies that aren’t batteries,” says Kachoria without wanting to go into any further details about what those technologies might be.

“There’s some amazing research and innovation going on, but if we look at just battery storage …. It may not be battery. So, there are some other techniques that we are looking at that might be more viable for supersonic long range [flights],” says Kachoria.

For the time being, the company is working on several development paths. Kachoria says that one of those is a manned supersonic demonstrator that the company is developing, with much of the company’s energy going into producing the aircraft. But most of the Spike team is working on aerodynamic optimisation of the company’s full-size S-512 business jet.

Spike’s S-512 supersonic business is planned to fly at subsonic speeds over land but have a maximum speed of Mach 1.8 over oceans. Kachoria says that on top of the S-512, there could be other “spin off” aircraft that the company is contemplating.

But before the company reveals more details, Kachoria wants to ensure that Spike can deliver on its intentions. “My approach, coming from an engineering background, is that I want to be able to validate something before we claim we are going to do it,” says Kachoria. “That’s in contrast to some folks that will put out a statement and then figure out how to do it.”

Despite the complexities of designing such an aircraft, Kachoria says that the company hasn’t found it difficult raising capital to fund the development of the aircraft. But his preference is to work with investors who are interested in owning one of the aircraft themselves, he adds.

“There are many different investors: There are investors who are sold on pretty pictures, and there are investors who are sold on solid numbers, analysis and the team and the engineering. They will do the due diligence and they will get an engineering team to look past the pretty pictures,” says Kachoria. “Those are the investors that I have talked to. Investors who are looking for pretty pictures … my judgement is that they may have short temperaments, things might not work out, you might hit a bump in the road, and then they might bail because it doesn’t live up to the pretty picture.”

For now, the company will remain relatively quiet about the progress that it has been making, but that doesn’t mean that nothing is happening in the background.

“We are doing quite a bit, but we are alive and well,” says Kachoria. “I know some people have been wondering if we are still around, but we are doing quite well.”