In order to provide guidance for the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator (SFD) project and the creation of the X-66A research aircraft, Boeing and NASA will work with U.S. airlines. Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines will offer suggestions for improving operational effectiveness, upkeep, handling qualities, and airport compatibility as part of a new sustainability alliance.
The X-66A, which will be constructed at a Boeing plant in Palmdale, California, will test the Transonic Truss-Braced Wing (TTBW) airframe configuration. It is the first NASA X-plane designed specifically to aid in the company’s pursuit of net-zero aviation greenhouse gas emissions.
A single-aisle aircraft with a TTBW design might lower fuel consumption and emissions by up to 30% compared to today’s domestic fleet of aircraft when combined with anticipated developments in propulsion systems, materials, and systems architecture.
The U.S. airlines will offer feedback throughout the project, including:
- Design: Airline participants will share feedback on sustainable operations and airport compatibility. While the X-66A will have a wingspan of 145 feet, the TTBW design could be used by airplanes of different sizes and missions and may benefit from folding wing tips to accommodate existing airport infrastructure.
- Simulation and lab testing: Airline pilots will have a chance to experience the X-66A through a flight simulator and assess the vehicle’s handling characteristics.
- Flight testing: Airline operations and maintenance teams will assess the X-66A as modifications are made to the airplane. Flight testing is slated for 2028 and 2029 out of NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base.