Soaring to Sustainability: NASA and Boeing’s X-66 Pioneers Net-Zero Emissions

NASA Boeing X-66 Aircraft

Artist’s concept of the X-66 aircraft that Boeing will produce through NASA’s Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project. Credit: NASA

NASA and Boeing are developing the X-66, an innovative aircraft designed to advance net-zero aviation emissions by 2050. Featuring the Transonic Truss-Braced Wing concept, it promises significant fuel and emissions reductions.

As NASA and Boeing enter the early stages of producing the X-66, the first X-plane specifically focused on helping the United States achieve net-zero aviation emissions by 2050, the team is already picturing what the aircraft will look like soaring above the clouds.

A new rendering of the X-66 from Boeing demonstrates the aircraft’s signature extra-long, thin wings stabilized by diagonal struts, known as the Transonic Truss-Braced Wing concept. When combined with other advancements in propulsion systems, materials, and systems architecture, this configuration could result in up to 30% less fuel consumption and reduced emissions when compared with today’s best-in-class aircraft.

Under the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project, Boeing will work with NASA to build, test, and fly the full-scale X-66 demonstrator aircraft. The project seeks to inform a new generation of more sustainable single-aisle aircraft – the workhorse of passenger airlines around the world. Boeing transported the MD-90 aircraft that will be turned into the X-66 to its Palmdale, California facility last year, and has removed its engines as the modifications started.

The X-66 is a key part of NASA’s Sustainable Flight National Partnership, through which the agency seeks to protect the environment, grow the U.S. economy, and provide new innovations for the traveling public.

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