NASA and Boeing will collaborate on the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project to develop, test, and launch an emission-reducing single-aisle airplane this decade, according to a statement released by the agency on Wednesday.
“Since the beginning, NASA has been with you when you fly. NASA has also dared to go farther, faster, higher. And in doing so, NASA has made aviation more sustainable and dependable. It is in our DNA,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in a statement.
“It’s our goal that NASA’s partnership with Boeing to produce and test a full-scale demonstrator will help lead to future commercial airliners that are more fuel efficient, with benefits to the environment, the commercial aviation industry, and to passengers worldwide. If we’re successful, we may see these technologies in planes that the public takes to the skies in the 2030s.”
This experimental aircraft will conduct its initial test flight in 2028. The technology is intended to serve roughly 50% of the commercial market using short to medium-haul single-aisle aircraft, Nelson said.
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According to NASA, Airlines largely rely on single-aisle aircraft, which account for nearly half of aviation emissions worldwide. The US Aviation Climate Action’s objectives of reaching net-zero aviation carbon emissions by 2050 can be supported through the development of innovative technology that uses less fuel.
Boeing estimates that the demand for the new single-aisle aircraft will increase by 40,000 planes between 2035 and 2050.
The design NASA and Boeing are developing might cut emissions and fuel use by up to 30% compared to today’s most efficient aircraft.
The concept is known as the Transonic Truss-Braced Wing. It makes use of long, thin wings that are supported by diagonal struts that attach the wings to the airplane.
The design’s shape also creates less drag, which means burning less fuel. Other environmentally friendly flying technology will be included in the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator.