This week, NASA announced that it has awarded The Boeing Company for its Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project, which aims to inform the possible development of a new generation of low-emission, single-aisle jetliners
Through a new Funded Space Act Agreement, the leading aircraft manufacturing company will work alongside NASA experts to design, construct and test a full-scale demonstrator aircraft. including. Building a full-scale, functional model will enable flight testing and allow designers to validate new technologies for reducing emissions.
Over the next seven years, NASA will invest $425 million in the project, while Boeing and its partners put forth the remainder of the necessary funding, amounting to about $725 million, as per the agreement.
The aim is for the project to reach completion by the late 2020s, so that the designs and technologies demonstrated through the prototype can inform the aviation sector’s decisions in designing the next generation of single-aisle aircraft, which could potentially enter service in the coming decade.
The project is predicated upon a ‘Transonic Truss-Braced Wing’ concept that includes thin, elongated wings, which are stabilized by diagonal struts. This novel blueprint produces an aircraft configuration that creates less drag or air resistance, reducing the need to burn as much fuel as traditional airliners.
Heavy use of single-aisle airplanes, which are essentially the workhorses of commercial airlines’ fleets, currently produce close to half of the global aviation sector’s emissions. NASA’s goal is that the technologies tested for this project, in conjunction with other advancements in propulsion systems, materials, etc. might reduce emissions by up to 30 percent, compared with today’s most efficient single-aisle aircraft.
Among the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project’s goals is aiding the country’s efforts to reach net-zero carbon emissions from aviation by the year 2050, which is one of the environmental objectives outlined in the White House’s U.S. Aviation Climate Action Plan.
“We’re honored to continue our partnership with NASA and to demonstrate technology that significantly improves aerodynamic efficiency resulting in substantially lower fuel burn and emissions,” said Todd Citron, Boeing’s chief technology officer. “Boeing has been advancing a multipronged sustainability strategy, including fleet renewal, operational efficiency, renewable energy, and advanced technologies to support the U.S. Aviation Climate Action Plan and meet the industry objective of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Sustainable Flight Demonstrator builds on more than a decade of NASA, Boeing, and our industry partners’ investments to help achieve these objectives.”
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