DALLAS – NASA has revealed its billion-dollar plan to develop a futuristic single-aisle airliner in a bid to transform the aviation industry and slash emissions of commercial airlines.
Working with Boeing, the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator, could reduce fuel consumption and emissions by up to 30% compared with the most efficient aircraft in the air today.
Radical Wing Design
The aircraft will feature a radical wing redesign known as the ‘Transonic Truss-Braced Wing’ concept. This sees extra-long thin wings stabilised by diagonal struts connected to the fuselage. The design provides more lift and creates less drag, thus burning less fuel. However, the design does add complexity.
Discussing the wing, NASA Associate Administrator Bob Pearce said, “The Transonic Truss-Brace Wing is the kind of transformative concept and investment we will need to meet those challenges.”
Further green aviation technologies will also be incorporated into the design. These include hybrid-electric propulsion technologies, advanced composite manufacturing methods and the development of “compact” turbofan cores.
NASA is set to invest US$425m over the next seven years, supported by the Funded Space Act Agreement. Meanwhile, Boeing and other partners will add US$725m. The whole project is expected to cost in the region of US$1.15bn.
Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator, said, “NASA has dared to go farther, faster, higher, and in doing do, NASA has made aviation more sustainable and dependable.
“It’s our goal that Nasa’s partnership with Boeing to produce and test a full-scale demonstrator will help lead to future commercial airliners that are more fuel efficient, with benefits to the environment, the commercial aviation industry, and to passengers worldwide.”
NASA expects the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator test flights to last around a year. Some of this flight testing will occur from its Armstrong Flight Research Center in California. It hopes to incorporate the technologies into new single-aisle aircraft entering service in the 2030s.
Featured Image: The aircraft of the future? Photo: NASA.