Boeing has started removing engines and finishing 3D metrology scans to inform the plane’s design and build plan on an aircraft that will become the X-66 Sustainable Flight Demonstrator (SFD).
To test the Transonic Truss-Braced Wing (TTBW) design, the original wings of the MD-90 jet will soon be removed. In their place will be new, ultrathin wings supported by struts with greater spans and aspect ratios. Because of its larger wing span and increased aerodynamic efficiency, TTBW may be able to take advantage of more opportunities to cut emissions and fuel use.
NASA’s first experimental aircraft project aimed at assisting the United States in reaching its net-zero aviation greenhouse gas emissions target is the X-66. Testing on land and in the air is anticipated to start in 2028.
Boeing released a time-lapse video of recent steps in the conversion including:
- Removal of the engines and thrust reversers
- Jacking and shoring of the jet to simulate the condition of the airplane during full modification
- 3D laser scanning of the airplane structure
Boeing will overlay the new X-66 components on top of the current MD-90 structure using 3D modeling software and the scanned data. This will allow for more precise spatial integration and the chance to identify and reduce risks early in the modification process.