More sustainable commercial aviation may soon become a reality.
Sustainable aviation has become a priority for both the aviation industry and policymakers, but improvements have been mostly piecemeal over the past decade. However, a public-private partnership between NASA and Boeing can now help push for becoming “greener” — and the aircraft’s sleek “bundled-wing” design is at the center of it all.
As for the partnership, NASA will work with Boeing to develop and test a prototype single-aisle aircraft that it hopes will significantly reduce emissions. NASA and Boeing have suggested that the new plane could be flying at some point in the 2030s, though the flashy futuristic design concepts have a mixed record when it comes to hitting schedules — if they fly at all.
However, the project aims to improve the environmental impact of single-aisle aircraft such as the Boeing 737 MAX and the Airbus A320 family, which are laborers for airlines around the world. Thus, their use accounts for nearly half of aviation emissions worldwide.
“If we succeed, we may see these technologies in aircraft that the public takes to the skies in the 2030s,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement.
The design being tested by NASA and Boeing is called the “Transonic Truss-Braced Wing” demonstration aircraft, which NASA believes could reduce emissions and fuel consumption by about 30%.
The Transonic Truss-Braced Wing design gives the aircraft very long, narrow wings, diagonal struts and higher aspect ratios.
The design is more sustainable than conventional aircraft because the wing creates less drag for the aircraft; This means the plane will burn less fuel, according to NASA.
It could be a major milestone for sustainable aviation, said Greg Heslop, Boeing’s chief engineer.
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“It represents an opportunity to design, build and fly an experimental full-size aircraft, while also solving new technical problems,” Hislop said.
Over the next seven years, NASA said it will invest $425 million in the sustainable flight project, while Boeing and other industry partners will finance the remainder of the project. Its total cost is estimated at $725 million. NASA added that it will also contribute its facilities and expertise to the initiative.
NASA said its partnership with Boeing to develop a more sustainable aircraft would also allow the United States to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 – policy objective for the administration of President Joe Biden.
The partnership between NASA and Boeing comes as the aerospace industry is forced to confront its sustainability practices due to the looming threat of climate change. air travel accounts It accounts for nearly 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions, but some scientists believe it plays a much larger role in climate change.
While airlines such as JetBlue, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines have pledged To work towards net zero emissions, the path to sustainable aviation for the aviation industry has not been easy.
Airlines have fiddled with using sustainable aviation fuel – commonly known as SAF – is made from materials such as used cooking oil and other biomass. SAFs emitted Less carbon dioxide than conventional jet fuel. However, due to its limited production and the fact that it is very expensive, airlines have been slow to fully integrate SAF into their flights. Currently, airlines incorporate small amounts of SAFs into their jet fuel for select flights.
Given the challenges of achieving sustainable aviation, NASA and Boeing’s development of these environmentally friendly aircraft could be a game-changer for the aviation industry.
“Our goal is that NASA’s partnership with Boeing to produce and test a full-scale demonstrator will help lead to future commercial aircraft that are more fuel efficient with benefits for the environment, the commercial aviation industry, and passengers around the world,” Nelson said.