Future aircraft

Future​ aircraft


(SUGAR - Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research)

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NASA project for Greener Aircraft

Three industry teams spent 2011 studying how to meet NASA's goals for making future aircraft:

burn 50 percent less fuel than aircraft that entered service in 1998,

emit 75 percent fewer harmful emissions; and

shrink the size of geographic areas affected by objectionable airport noise by 83 percent.

The teams were led by General Electric, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northrop Grumman and The Boeing Company.

Source - NASA


Boeing X48

Boeing's advanced vehicle concept centers around the familiar blended wing body design like the X-48. What makes this design different is the placement of its Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engines on the top of the plane's back end, flanked by two vertical tails to shield people on the ground from engine noise. The design also uses other technologies to reduce noise and drag, and long-span wings to improve fuel efficiency.

This design is among those presented to NASA at the end of 2011 by companies that conducted NASA-funded studies into aircraft that could enter service in 2025.

Image credit: NASA/Boeing


Lockheed Martin​

Lockheed Martin's advanced vehicle concept proposes a box wing design, which is now feasible thanks to modern lightweight composite (nonmetallic) materials, landing gear technologies and other advancements. Its Rolls Royce Liberty Works Ultra Fan Engine achieves a bypass ratio (flow of air around engine compared to through the engine) nearly five times greater than current engines, pushing the limits of turbofan technology to maximize efficiency.

Image credit: NASA/Lockheed Martin

Northrop Grumman's Flying Wing

Northrop Grumman's concept is based on the extremely aerodynamic "flying wing" design. The four Rolls Royce engines are embedded in the upper surface of the wing to achieve maximum noise shielding. The company used its expertise in building military planes without a stabilizing tail to propose this design for the commercial aviation market. 

AMELIA Climbs High

This computer rendering shows AMELIA (Advanced Model for Extreme Lift and Improved Aeroacoustics), a possible future hybrid wing body-type subsonic vehicle with short takeoff and landing capabilities

The Double Bubble D8

The "double bubble" D8 Series future aircraft design concept comes from the research team led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Based on a modified tube and wing with a very wide fuselage to provide extra lift, its low sweep wing reduces drag and weight; the embedded engines sit aft of the wings. The D8 series aircraft would be used for domestic flights and is designed to fly at Mach 0.74 carrying 180 passengers 3,000 nautical miles in a coach cabin roomier than that of a Boeing 737-800.

 NASA/MIT/Aurora Flight Sciences

GE 20 passenger

This future aircraft design concept comes from the research team led by GE Aviation.

Much lighter and more aerodynamic than current aircraft with the same capacity, the 20-passenger aircraft would reduce fuel consumption and noise and enable business jet-like travel between more than 1,300 airports. It features ultra-quiet turboprop engines, virtual reality windows and is designed to fly at Mach 0.55 for 800 nautical miles. 

Grumman Systems SELECT

Deceptively conventional-looking, the concept features advanced lightweight ceramic composite materials and nanotechnology and shape memory alloys. In addition to being energy efficient and environmentally friendly, the SELECT improves the capacity of the future air transportation system because it can be used at smaller airports and make them more effective. It is designed to fly at Mach 0.75 carrying 120 passengers 1,600 nautical miles. 

Boeing SUGAR Volt

The SUGAR Volt concept (which adds an electric battery gas turbine hybrid propulsion system) can reduce fuel burn by greater than 70 percent and total energy use by 55 percent when battery energy is included. Moreover, the fuel burn reduction and the ‘greening’ of the electrical power grid can produce large reductions in emissions of life cycle CO2 and nitrous oxide. Hybrid electric propulsion also has the potential to shorten takeoff distance and reduce noise.



MIT  Hybrid Wing Body H-Series

This design is suitable for intercontinental flights and larger passenger loads similar to a Boeing 777. It features embedded engines using variable area nozzles with thrust vectoring, noise shielding thanks to the fuselage and other technologies, and advanced onboard vehicle health monitoring systems. This aircraft is designed to fly at Mach 0.83 carrying 354 passengers 7,600 nautical miles. 



Lockheed Martin Supersonic

Our ability to fly at supersonic speeds over land in civil aircraft depends on our ability to reduce the level of sonic booms. NASA has been exploring a variety of options for quieting the boom, starting with design concepts and moving through wind tunnel tests to flight tests of new technologies. This rendering of a possible future civil supersonic transport shows a vehicle that is shaped to reduce the sonic shockwave signature and also to reduce drag. 

Boeing supersonic

The "Icon-II" future aircraft design concept for supersonic flight over land comes from the team led by The Boeing Company.

A design that achieves fuel burn reduction and airport noise goals, it also achieves large reductions in sonic boom noise levels that will meet the target level required to make supersonic flight over land possible.

Engine research at Rolls Royce

Open turbine, Lean burn, Sage3