5 Indians say yes to private jet worth Rs 323 cr

How many Indians would be interested in buying an eight-to 12-seater supersonic business jet (SSBJ), which costs Rs 323 crore and will be launched only by the end of 2014? The answer: Five.

If four Indians could feature in the Forbes list of top 10 billionaires, it shouldn’t be surprising that these buyers have already paid Rs 1 crore each as down payment to book the faster-than-sound aircraft.

Never mind if under the present rules, neither India nor a host of other countries like the US allow supersonic flights in their airspace.

“We have got five orders from India and 80 worldwide, excluding the US,” said an official from ExecuJet Aviation Group, the international sales representative of Aerion SSBJs, on Monday.

No one’s saying, though, who these five Indian supersonic jet buyers are. And it has not been decided yet who the first customer will be. The first of the aircraft should enter service by 2014.

Currently, the aircraft, with a range of 4,000 nautical miles (six times the distance between Mumbai and Delhi), exists only in design and on paper, although it has obtained a patent for its unique wing structure.

So, how fast does the Aerion SBBJ, which stands out with its plate-like stubby wings and Pinocchio nose, fly?

“A Mumbai-Singapore trip operated by today’s long-range business jets takes 4.50 hours. Aerion SSBJ will complete the same leg in 2.55 hours, combining speeds of 1.15 Mach over India and 1.6 over sea,” said Peter Smales, executive director, ExecuJet.

He says that they were hopeful that India would relax its rules for supersonic flights in the future. The very popular Mumbai-London route will be shorter by 2.20 hours if the aircraft flies at 0.95 Mach during half its flight time.

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