NASA reveals the futuristic plane we want to fly – someday

More sustainable commercial flying could soon become a reality.

Sustainable flying has become a priority for both the airline industry and policymakers, but improvements have been mostly partial over the past decade. However, a public-private partnership between NASA and Boeing can now help the effort go “greener” — and a sleek new “rig” aircraft design is at the heart of it all.

For the partnership, NASA will work with Boeing to develop and test a single-aisle jet that it hopes will significantly reduce emissions. NASA and Boeing reckon the new plane could carry passengers at some point in the 2030s, though flashy futuristic design concepts have a mixed record when it comes to timelines – if they used to fly.

However, the project aims to improve the environmental impact of single-aisle airliners such as the Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A320, which are the packhorses of airlines around the globe. As a result, their use accounts for almost half of worldwide aviation emissions.

“If we’re successful, we could see these technologies on planes that the public takes to the skies in the 2030s,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement.

The design NASA and Boeing are testing is called the “Transonic Truss-Braced Wing” demonstration aircraft, which NASA believes could reduce emissions and fuel consumption by about 30%.

The Transonic Bracing Wing design gives the aircraft thinner, longer wings that are stabilized by diagonal struts and a higher aspect ratio.

The design is more sustainable than traditional aircraft because the wings create less drag on the aircraft; This means the plane will burn less fuel, according to NASA.

Greg Hyslop, Boeing’s chief engineer, said this could be a major milestone for sustainable flying.

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“This is an opportunity to design, build and fly a large-scale test aircraft, while solving new engineering problems,” Hyslop said.

Over the next seven years, NASA says it will invest $425 million in the Sustainable Flight Demonstration project, while Boeing and other industry partners will fund the rest of the project. It is estimated to be worth a total of $725 million. NASA added that it will also contribute its facilities and expertise to the initiative.

NASA says its partnership with Boeing to develop a more sustainable aircraft will also allow the US to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 – a policy goals for the administration of President Joe Biden.

The NASA-Boeing partnership comes as the aviation industry is forced to confront sustainability practices due to the looming threat of climate change. Air travel account for about 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions, but some scientists believe it plays a much larger role in climate change.

While airlines like JetBlue, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines committed To move towards net zero emissions, the road to sustainable aviation for the aviation industry is not easy.

Airlines have toyed with using sustainable aviation fuel — called SAF — is made from materials such as used cooking oil and other biomass. SAF generate less carbon dioxide than traditional jet fuel. However, due to limited production and the fact that it is expensive, airlines have been slow to fully integrate SAF into their flights. Currently, airlines mix small amounts of SAF into their jet fuel for select flights.

Given the challenges of achieving sustainable aviation, NASA-Boeing’s development of these more eco-friendly planes could be a game changer for aviation.

“Our goal is NASA’s partnership with Boeing to produce and test a large-scale demonstration model that will help create future commercial aircraft that are more fuel-efficient with environmental benefits. market, commercial aviation and passengers around the world,” said Nelson.


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