Bin Laden relative to get supersonic business jet

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DUBAI, Nov 12 (Reuters) Saudi businessman Tarek bin Laden, half-brother of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, became the first customer to sign up for the million Aerion supersonic business jet on Monday.

The retirement in 2003 of the Concorde, which ferried the rich and famous across the Atlantic for 27 years at speeds up to 1,630 mph (2,625 kph), has opened a new market niche for planes faster than current business jets, Aerion believes.

''Initial demand for the Aerion jet will come from Europe and the Middle East,'' said Niall Olver, chief executive of ExecuJet, which will handle marketing of the plane outside the United States.

ExecuJet is looking for 40 customers with deposits of 0,000 each.

''Market demand has driven our decision to begin accepting deposits,'' said Brian Barents, Aerion's vice chairman.

The Reno, Nevada-based company formed in 2002 and unveiled the design for its needle-nosed jet in 2004.

The company has since been doing wind tunnel testing to advance its design. Seating eight to 12 passengers, plans call for a top speed of Mach 1.6 and a range of 4,500 miles.

REUTERS BJR BD1953

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