NASA unveils new ‘transformative aircraft’ that could change the future of air travel: ‘[We] are not just focused on stars’

NASA and Boeing have teamed up to build an experimental passenger plane to help achieve the U.S.’s goal of net-zero aviation emissions by 2050, according to Good News Network.

In a joint statement, the two said the aircraft would be built through NASA’s Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project and that the U.S. Air Force is calling it the X-66A.

X-plane status is given to research aircraft that are meant to test designs and technologies that can also be used in other aircraft designs as opposed to serving as prototypes for production.

Working with NASA through its Sustainable Flight National Partnership — an initiative to make aviation more environmentally friendly — Boeing will develop the plane’s Transonic Truss-Braced Wing configuration and build the prototype.

The X-66A is being designed to improve fuel efficiency in commercial aviation and is the first plane focused on helping the U.S. meet its emissions goal. The technology could go a long way in mitigating the effect of commercial aviation on the environment.

Good News Network reported that single-aisle commercial planes are responsible for almost 50% of global aviation emissions, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration adds that aviation accounts for 3.5% of all sources of Earth’s rising temperatures caused by human activities.

When combined with other technological advancements, Boeing’s TTBW could result in as much as 30% less fuel consumption and reduced emissions as compared to today’s best-in-class planes, according to NASA.

In a press release, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said, “At NASA, our eyes are not just focused on stars. … The X-66A will help shape the future of aviation, a new era where aircraft are greener, cleaner, and quieter, and create new possibilities for the flying public and American industry alike.”

Bob Pearce, associate administrator for NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, said, “To reach our goal of net-zero aviation emissions by 2050, we need transformative aircraft concepts like the ones we’re flying on the X-66A. … We’re aiming high to demonstrate the kinds of energy-saving, emissions-reducing technologies the aviation industry needs.”

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