Boeing wins NASA sustainable flight demonstrator contract

NASA, Boeing and partners aim to cut fuel use and emissions up to 30% in single-aisle airplanes

Boeing wins NASA sustainable flight demonstrator contract

Sustainable flight demonstrator (SFD) rendering

NASA has selected Boeing and its industry team to lead the development and flight testing of a full-scale Transonic Truss-Braced Wing (TTBW) demonstrator airplane.

"The technologies demonstrated and tested as part of the sustainable flight demonstrator (SFD) programme will inform future designs and could lead to breakthrough aerodynamics and fuel efficiency gains," says a release from Boeing.

When combined with expected advancements in propulsion systems, materials and systems architecture, a single-aisle airplane with a TTBW configuration could reduce fuel consumption and emissions up to 30 percent relative to today's most efficient single-aisle airplanes, depending on the mission, the release added. "The SFD programme aims to advance the civil aviation industry's commitment to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 as well as the goals set forth in the White House's U.S. Aviation Climate Action Plan."

Greg Hyslop, chief engineer and executive vice president of Engineering, Test & Technology, Boeing says: "The SFD programme has the potential to make a major contribution toward a sustainable future. It represents an opportunity to design, build and fly a full-scale experimental plane while solving novel technical problems."

Ultrathin wings braced by struts with larger spans and higher-aspect ratios could eventually accommodate advanced propulsion systems that are limited by a lack of underwing space in today's low-wing airplane configurations, the release said. "For the demonstrator vehicle, Boeing will use elements from existing vehicles and integrate them with all-new components."

NASA's funding through the SFD Space Act Agreement totals $425 million. The SFD programme will also leverage up to $725 million in funding by Boeing and its industry partners to shape the demonstrator programme and meet the resource needs required. "Separately, Boeing's previous internal investments for recent phases of sustainable aviation research total $110 million."

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