By Andy Sambidge
Aviation company says region makes up 25% of letters of intent for business jet project.
Middle East customers make up nearly a quarter of all deals done for the first $80m supersonic business jet, the company behind plans to bring the plane to market said on Tuesday.
Aerion launched its formal marketing efforts two years ago at the Dubai Air Show where it began accepting letters of intent to buy the Aerion supersonic business jet, each backed by a $250,000 refundable deposit.
To date, Aerion has approximately 50 letters representing a backlog of $4bn. Nearly a quarter of orders are from customers in the region with the remainder in Europe and the Americas, Aerion vice chairman Brian Barents said.
He said he would use next week's 2009 Dubai Air Show to reiterate the company's commitment to forging a partnership with one or more manufacturing partners and to being first to market with a supersonic business jet.
"We are quite encouraged by our discussions with potential partners. The state of the economy has slowed their decision making progress, but it has not lessened interest in this programme," he said.
"We are also encouraged by continuing strong customer interest in the airplane, particularly in the Middle East."
Barents said the Aerion order book had held steady in spite of the global recession.
"The Middle East, India, Russia, China, other Asian countries and Australia will all be strong markets for the aircraft. We are entering a new era of maturing global trade relationships, and rapid transportation between regions will be essential."
Aerion, an advanced aeronautical research organisation, said it required the participation of a large original equipment manufacturer (OEM) skilled in bringing new aircraft to market.
It added it was in discussions aimed at entering into a 9-12 month technical assessment phase, followed by the launch of a five-year development and certification programme.
Barents added: "We have consistently found strong interest in supersonic transport here at the Dubai Air Show, and so we are here again to tell business jet operators that they will soon be able to embrace a faster future."