Through the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project, NASA and Boeing have joined forces to create the X-66A, a next-generation aircraft that will streamline energy usage.
The X-66A could ultimately result in 30% less fuel use compared to current aircraft models, drastically reducing pollution, according to NASA. The aircraft is intentionally designed to help the United States eventually reach its goal of achieving net-zero pollution in aviation by the year 2050.
The X-66A will be a single-aisle passenger aircraft modified from an MD-90 aircraft. Designers will replace the plane’s wings and engines, shorten the fuselage, and add longer, thinner wings with supportive aerodynamic trusses.
Reducing planet-warming pollution created by air travel is an essential step toward a greener planet. Our World in Data found that aviation generates around 2.5% of all carbon pollution worldwide.
Additionally, according to the BBC, domestic flights create about six times more harmful pollution than driving the equivalent distance and about 42 times more than taking the train the equivalent distance.
“At NASA, our eyes are not just focused on stars but also fixated on the sky. The Sustainable Flight Demonstrator builds on NASA’s world-leading efforts in aeronautics as well climate,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “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.”
“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,” said Bob Pearce, the associate administrator for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate at NASA. “With this experimental aircraft, we’re aiming high to demonstrate the kinds of energy-saving, emissions-reducing technologies the aviation industry needs.”
NASA isn’t the only entity making advances in the flight industry for the betterment of the planet. One company recently completed a flight of the world’s biggest zero-pollution plane, while a Swiss company’s electric seaplanes are gaining popularity.
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