NASA awards an award for a greener and more economical airliner of the future


NASA announced Wednesday that it has awarded Boeing an award for the agency’s Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project, which aims to inform a potential new generation of sustainable single-body airliners.

Under the Space Financing Agreement, Boeing will work with NASA to build, test and fly a full-scale demonstrator aircraft and test technologies aimed at reducing emissions.

NASA will invest $425 million over seven years, while the company and its partners will contribute the rest of the funding for the deal, which is estimated at about $725 million. As part of the agreement, the agency will also provide technical expertise and equipment.

“From the beginning, NASA has been with you when you fly. NASA dared to go further, faster, higher. And in this way, NASA has made aviation more sustainable and reliable. It’s in our DNA,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Our goal is that NASA’s partnership with Boeing to produce and test a full-scale demonstrator will help create future commercial airliners that are more fuel efficient, benefiting the environment, the commercial aviation industry and passengers worldwide. If we’re successful, we could see these technologies in airplanes that the public will take to the skies in the 2030s,” said a NASA representative.

Single-aisle aircraft are the workhorse of many airline fleets and, due to their heavy use, account for almost half of the world’s aviation emissions. NASA plans to complete testing of the project by the late 2020s so that the technologies and designs demonstrated in the project can inform industry decisions on the next generation of single-body aircraft that could enter service in the 2030s.

As part of the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project, Boeing and its industry team will work with NASA to develop and flight test a full-scale Transonic Truss Braced Wing demonstrator aircraft.

The Transonic Truss-Braced Wing concept involves the creation of an aircraft with ultra-long thin wings stabilized by diagonal struts. This design results in an aircraft that is much more efficient than a traditional airliner, thanks to a shape that would create less drag, resulting in it burning less fuel.

“NASA is working toward the ambitious goal of developing breakthrough technologies to reduce aviation energy use and emissions in the coming decades to meet the aviation community’s goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050,” said Bob Pierce, NASA’s associate administrator for aeronautics. Office of the research mission. “The Transonic Truss-Braced Wing is the kind of transformative concept and investment we will need to address these challenges, and importantly, the technologies demonstrated in this project have a clear and viable path to inform the next generation of single-fuselage aircraft, benefiting everyone , who uses the air transport system”.

NASA’s goal is for the technology used in the demonstrator aircraft, combined with other advances in powerplants, materials and system architecture, to reduce fuel consumption and emissions by up to 30% compared to the most efficient current single-aisle aircraft, depending on the mission .

Through a separate effort, NASA has worked with Boeing and other industry partners on advanced green aviation concepts, including the Transonic Truss-Braced Wing concept.

Artist concept of a family of commercial aircraft with a transonic trussed wing configuration from the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project. Credit: Boeing

“We are honored to continue our partnership with NASA and demonstrate technology that significantly improves aerodynamic efficiency, leading to significant reductions in fuel burn and emissions,” said Todd Citron, Boeing’s chief technology officer. “Boeing is advancing a multi-pronged sustainability strategy, including fleet renewal, operational efficiency, renewable energy and advanced technology, to support the US Aviation Climate Change Action Plan and achieve the industry’s goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Sustainable Flight Demonstrator builds on more than a decade of investment by NASA, Boeing and our industry partners to achieve these goals.”

The new space funding agreement allows NASA to tap into the expertise and experience of private industry, while Boeing and its partners develop a proposed technical plan. NASA will provide access to its aeronautical facilities and expertise. NASA will not purchase the aircraft or any other equipment for its missions. The agency will have access to certain ground and flight data that can be used to verify the airframe’s configuration and related technologies.

The Sustainable Flight Demonstrator will help the United States achieve net zero carbon dioxide emissions from aviation by 2050, one of the environmental goals outlined in the White House Climate Action Plan for US Aviation. The International Civil Aviation Organization has also set itself the goal of zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The project is an activity within NASA’s Integrated Aviation Systems Program and a key element of the National Sustainable Flight Partnership, which focuses on the development of new sustainable aviation technologies.

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