Boeing Awarded Contract for NASA Sustainable Single-Aisle Flight Demonstrator
NASA has selected Boeing and their industry team to lead the development and testing of a full-scale Transonic Truss-Braced Wing (TTBW) demonstrator airplane. The technologies demonstrated and tested could lead to aerodynamic and fuel-efficiency breakthroughs.
On Wednesday (January 18, 2023), Boeing announced that in partnership with their industry team, they have been selected by NASA to lead the development and flight testing of a full-scale Transonic Truss-Braced Wing (TTBW) demonstrator airplane. As part of the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator (SFD) program, the technologies demonstrated and tested will help inform future designs, and could result in breakthroughs in aerodynamics and fuel efficiency improvements. The single-aisle TTBW airplane configuration, when combined with expected advancements in propulsion systems, materials and system architecture, could potentially reduce fuel consumption and emissions by up to 30 percent, compared to today’s most efficient single-aisle aircraft.
In Wednesday’s announcement, Boeing’s Chief Engineer and EVP of Engineering, Test & Technology, Greg Hyslop, said,
“The SFD program has the potential to make a major contribution toward a sustainable future. It represents an opportunity to design, build and fly a full-scale experimental plane, while solving novel technical problems.”
The TTBW airframe concept is a result of over a decade of development supported by NASA, Boeing and industry investments. Boeing previously conducted extensive wind tunnel testing and digital modeling to advance the design as part of NASA’s Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research program. Earlier, conceptual studies for the TTBW design were started under NASA’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation Program.
By incorporating ultrathin wings braced by struts with larger spans and higher-aspect ratios, the TTBW aircraft design could eventually accommodate advanced propulsion systems, that are currently limited by a lack of underwing space in today’s low-wing airplane configurations. Boeing will integrate elements from current vehicles with all-new components in the development of the demonstrator. The funding agreement through NASA’s SFD Space Act Agreement totals $425 million. The SFD program will also leverage up to $725 million in funding from Boeing and their industry partners to meet resource needs and shape the demonstrator’s development. Boeing has also invested $110 million internally for recent phases of sustainable aviation research.