Boeing is selected by NASA to lead sustainable flight tests

NASA, Boeing and the other partners participating in the initiative aim to reduce fuel use and emissions by up to 30% in single-aisle aircraft

(Source: Boeing)

Boeing has been selected by NASA to lead the development and flight test of a full-scale Transonic Truss-Braced Wing (TTBW) demonstration aircraft.

Technologies demonstrated and proven as part of the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator (SFD) program will inform future designs and could lead to groundbreaking aerodynamic advances and fuel efficiency gains.

When combined with expected advances in propulsion systems, materials, and systems architecture, a single-aisle aircraft with a TTBW configuration could reduce fuel burn and emissions by up to 30% relative to conventional aircraft. most efficient single-aisle aircraft available today, depending on the mission. The SFD program aims to advance the civil aviation industry's commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, as well as the targets set out in the White House's US Aviation Climate Action Plan.

“The SFD program has the potential to make an important contribution toward a sustainable future,” said Greg Hyslop, Boeing chief engineer and executive vice president of Engineering, Test & Technology. "It represents an opportunity to design, build and fly a full-scale experimental aircraft, while solving new technical problems."

Ultra-thin strut-braced wings, with larger spans and higher aspect ratio, could eventually accommodate advanced powertrains that are limited by the lack of underwing space in current low-wing aircraft configurations. For the demo vehicle, Boeing will take elements from existing vehicles and integrate them with all-new components.

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

The TTBW airframe concept is the result of more than a decade of development supported by NASA, Boeing and industry investments. Under previous NASA programs, including the agency's Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research program, Boeing conducted extensive wind tunnel testing and digital modeling to advance the design of the TTBW. The first concept studies began under NASA's Environmentally Responsible Aviation program.

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