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Boeing, NASA to Develop Fuel-Efficient Plane

Aerospace company Boeing Co. will design and build for NASA a new fuel-efficient aircraft “that could one day become standard for midsize passenger and cargo aircraft,” according to POLITICO Pro’s CLIMATEWIRE (subscription).

What’s going on: In a project estimated to cost $1.15 billion, NASA will give Boeing $425 million to develop a prototype plane using the drag-reducing “‘transonic truss-braced wing.’”

  • NASA hopes to complete flight testing by the late 2020s so that Boeing and other industry leaders “can evaluate and then procure the next-generation planes over the following decade.
  • Boeing and industry partners will contribute the remainder of the project’s funds.

Why it’s important: NASA’s “partnership with Boeing will ‘help lead to future commercial airliners that are more fuel efficient, with benefits to the environment, the commercial aviation industry and to passengers worldwide,’” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said Wednesday.

  • The transonic truss-braced wing design, which involves long, thin wings, helps make aircraft up to 30% more fuel-efficient than traditional airliners due to drag reduction.
  • The project aim is in keeping with the Biden administration’s Aviation Climate Plan, which calls for net-zero carbon emissions from the aviation industry by 2050.
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