NASA has chosen Boeing and its industry team to lead the development and flight testing of a full-scale Transonic Truss-Braced Wing (TTBW) demonstrator aircraft.
The innovations exhibited and tested as part of the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator (SFD) program will be used to inform future designs, potentially leading to breakthrough aerodynamics and fuel efficiency advances.
Depending on the operation, a single-aisle aircraft with a TTBW layout could lower fuel consumption and emissions by up to 30% compared to today’s most efficient single-aisle aircraft.
The Sustainable Flight Demonstrator (SFD) initiative intends to promote the civil aviation industry’s commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and the targets outlined in the White House’s U.S. Aviation Climate Action Plan.
“The SFD program has the potential to make a major contribution toward a sustainable future,” said Greg Hyslop, Boeing chief engineer and executive vice president of Engineering, Test & Technology. “It represents an opportunity to design, build and fly a full-scale experimental plane while solving novel technical problems.”
Ultrathin wings braced by struts with greater spans and higher aspect ratios could accommodate modern propulsion systems currently constrained by a lack of underwing room in low-wing aircraft layouts. Boeing will take existing vehicle pieces and integrate them with all-new components for the prototype vehicle.
The SFD Space Act Agreement provides NASA with $425 million in financing. In addition, the SFD program will leverage up to $725 million in funding from Boeing and its industry partners to shape the demonstrator program and meet the resource requirements.
The TTBW airframe concept is the result of more than a decade of development supported by NASA, Boeing, and industry investments. Under previous NASA programs, including the agency’s Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research program, Boeing conducted extensive wind tunnel testing and digital modeling to advance the design of the TTBW.