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NASA and Boeing target 30% fuel reduction with ultrathin wing demonstrator

Professional Engineering

The X-66A will be used to test the transonic truss-braced wing (TTBW) configuration (Credit: Boeing)
The X-66A will be used to test the transonic truss-braced wing (TTBW) configuration (Credit: Boeing)

NASA and Boeing are targeting a 30% reduction in fuel use and emissions with the development of a new experimental aircraft.

The partners will modify a Boeing MD-90 aeroplane in Palmdale, California, where it was transported to this week.

The X-66A, as the resulting experimental aircraft will be known, will be used to test the transonic truss-braced wing (TTBW) configuration as part of the space agency’s Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project.

A TTBW aircraft produces less drag due to its longer, thinner wings supported by aerodynamic trusses, according to NASA. The ultrathin wings, larger spans, higher aspect ratios and other technological advances could reduce fuel use and emissions.

Modifications to the MD-90 will start soon, Boeing said. Ground and flight testing is expected to start in 2028.

“We at NASA are excited to be working with Boeing on the X-66A Sustainable Flight Demonstrator, making critical contributions to accelerate aviation towards its 2050 net-zero greenhouse gas emission goal,” said Ed Waggoner, deputy associate administrator for programmes in the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate.

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Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


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