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Boeing, NASA to develop sustainable airliner

NASA announced it issued an award to The Boeing Co. to develop a full-scale, single-aisle, Transonic Truss-Braced Wing demonstrator aircraft.

Artist concept of commercial aircraft families with a Transonic Truss-Braced Wing configuration from the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project. Image courtesy of Boeing.

The $425 million award is part of the space agency’s Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project aimed at making commercial aviation more fuel efficient. In addition to funds, NASA also plans to contribute technical expertise and facilities to Boeing. The seven-year project is expected to cost over $1 billion with Boeing and its partners footing the bill for the remaining $725 million.

Through this project, the agency will work to develop new technologies to combat and lower commercial aviation’s carbon footprint with a goal of aviation communitywide net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Ultimately, NASA hopes that the technology developed for the demonstrator aircraft, when coupled with the most state-of-the-art aviation technology, will lead to a 30-percent reduction in fuel usage and emissions compared to today’s most efficient single-aisle aircraft design, depending on the mission.

“The Transonic Truss-Braced Wing is the kind of transformative concept and investment we will need to meet those challenges and, critically, the technologies demonstrated in this project have a clear and viable path to informing the next generation of single-aisle aircraft, benefiting everyone that uses the air transportation system,” Bob Pearce, NASA associate administrator for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, said in a news release.

This isn’t the first time Boeing and NASA have joined forces on developing sustainable aircraft technology, including previous collaboration on the Transonic Truss-Braced Wing concept aircraft, which has been in the works for the last decade.

The Transonic Truss-Based Wing concept takes a single-aisle airliner fuselage and adds extra long, thin wings that are supported by diagonal struts—a design that NASA officials believe will reduce drag, and, in turn, increase fuel efficiency. Single-aisle aircraft account for nearly half of worldwide aviation emissions, and over the next decade NASA hopes this project will inform and influence future decision making about the next generation of single-aisle aircraft entering service in the 2030s.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson holds a model of an aircraft with a Transonic Truss-Braced Wing during a news conference on NASA's Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project on January 18 at the Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters building in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of NASA/Joel Kowsky.
Niki Britton
eMedia Content Producer
eMedia Content Producer Niki Britton joined AOPA in 2021. She is a private pilot who enjoys flying her 1969 Cessna 182 and taking aerial photographs.
Topics: Technology, Jet, Boeing (North American / Rockwell International)

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