NASA’s sustainable plane, Boeing could fly in the 2030s

(CNN) — Greener commercial flight technology may be on the horizon.

NASA and Boeing will work together on the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project to build, test and fly an emissions-reducing single-aisle aircraft this decade, according to an agency announcement Wednesday.

“From the beginning, NASA has been with you when you fly. NASA has dared to go further, faster, higher. And in doing so, NASA has made aviation more sustainable and reliable. It’s in our DNA,” said NASA Administrator Bill. Nelson in a statement.

“Our goal is that NASA’s partnership with Boeing to produce and test a full-scale demonstrator will help create more fuel-efficient future commercial airliners, with benefits for the environment, the aviation industry commerce and passengers around the world. If we’re successful, we may see these technologies in the planes the public takes to the skies in the 2030s.”

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The first test flight of this experimental aircraft is set which will take place in 2028. The goal is for the technology to serve about 50% of the commercial market through short-to-medium-range single-aisle aircraft, Nelson said.

Airlines are largely dependent on single-aisle aircraft, which account for nearly half of the world’s aviation emissions, according to NASA. Developing new technologies to reduce fuel burn can support the Biden administration’s goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions from aviation by 2050, as outlined in the U.S. Air Transport Action Plan. aviation climate.

Boeing estimates that demand for new single-aisle aircraft will increase by 40,000 aircraft between 2035 and 2050.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson holds a model airplane with a transonic lattice wing.

Joel Kowsky/NASA

The design NASA and Boeing are working on could reduce fuel burn and emissions by up to 30% compared to today’s most efficient planes, the agency says.

It’s called the Transonic Truss-Braced Wing concept, which relies on elongated, thin wings stabilized by diagonal struts that connect the wings to the aircraft. The shape of the design creates less drag, which means less fuel consumption.

The sustainable flight demonstrator will also integrate other green aviation technologies.

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“NASA is working toward an ambitious goal to develop breakthrough technologies to reduce aviation energy consumption and emissions over the next few decades towards an aviation community goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050” said Bob Pearce, NASA associate administrator for aeronautics. Direction of the research mission, in a press release.

“The Transonic Truss-Braced wing is the kind of transformative concept and investment we will need to meet these challenges and, importantly, the technologies demonstrated in this project have a clear and viable path to inform the next generation of aircraft. single-aisle aircraft, benefiting all who use the air transport system.

The benefits of increasing the wing’s aspect ratio have long been known, but the challenge of structuring the design required advancements in materials and construction to reach this point of development, Pearce said.

By partnering with the project, NASA and Boeing can take more risks than the aviation industry can on his, he said.

“This is an experimental aircraft,” he said. “This is not a commercial development of an aircraft that passengers will fly in today. And the reason we have to do this is because this is high-risk technology. We are trying to validate the technology.”

The partnership, backed by the Funded Space Act Agreement, will leverage technical expertise and facilities and $425 million from NASA over seven years. Meanwhile, Boeing and its partners will contribute the remaining $725 million and the technical plan.

“We are honored to continue our partnership with NASA and demonstrate technology that dramatically improves aerodynamic efficiency, which dramatically reduces fuel burn and emissions,” said Todd Citron, Chief Technology Officer. from Boeing.

The aviation sector is preparing to accelerate the production of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) made from cooking oil, clothing, steel production emissions and other renewable sources.

Top photo: An artist’s concept shows a commercial aircraft featuring NASA’s Transonic Truss-Braced Wing configuration and Boeing’s Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project.


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