ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA — Boeing is exploring the possibility of introducing a cutting-edge plane it has been developing alongside NASA into its lineup in the next decade, Boeing's CEO Dave Calhoun confirmed.

The US planemaker is scheduled to fly a prototype of the single-aisle jet, which could potentially replace the 737 MAX, later this decade. The plane is designed with extra-long, thin wings connected to the fuselage by diagonal struts, which could help reduce drag and fuel consumption. The concept has been in the works for almost 15 years.

Engineers from both NASA and Boeing have been working on a new aircraft design with technological upgrades to its engine that could reduce fuel consumption and emissions by up to 30% when compared to the Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A320neo, both popular choices for many airlines around the world.

Such gains would meet the "standard needed to launch a commercial airplane," Calhoun said Wednesday during an earnings conference call.

"The program that we've embarked on here is how do you commercialize it?" Calhoun said of its futuristic design. "So, there's real intent there to be able to do it."

Last year, Boeing CEO Calhoun appalled Wall Street with the announcement that the aviation giant wouldn't be investing in a new jetliner this decade in order to try and close the gap with Airbus in the narrowbody market. However, last week, Boeing received a $425 million grant from NASA to develop a new range of eco-friendly jetliners with the aim of bringing them to the commercial market in the 2030s. Boeing and its partners will be investing another $725 million in the project.

The new jet, which has yet to be assigned a snappy name like Boeing's other models, is currently known as the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator, or the "transonic truss-braced wing" among Boeing's staff. While the capabilities of the jet have yet to be determined, it is unclear if the concept could be applied to widebody jets that are designed to fly long distances.

"it will definitely have a role to play someday in the narrowbody world," Calhoun said.