Major U.S. airlines collaborate to advise on the X-66A research aircraft's development, focusing on operational efficiencies, maintenance, and airport compatibility.

The X-66A aims to achieve net-zero aviation greenhouse gas emissions and test the Transonic Truss-Braced Wing (TTBW) configuration.

Anticipated advancements could lead to a 30% reduction in fuel consumption and emissions compared to current single-aisle planes.

ARLINGTON —In a monumental Boeing and NASA have teamed up with prominent U.S. airlines, including Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines. This collaboration aims to gather insights on the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator (SFD) project and the X-66A research aircraft's progression. Feedback from these operators will concentrate on key areas such as operational efficiencies, handling characteristics, and airport compatibility.

Unveiling the X-66A's new livery today at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, Boeing's chief technology officer, Todd Citron, emphasized the importance of direct communication with operators. "This collaboration offers a clearer perspective on requirements and potential trade-offs," Citron stated. He further added that such feedback would be pivotal in advancing the X-66A project and bolstering aviation sustainability.

At its core, the X-66A will examine the Transonic Truss-Braced Wing (TTBW) airframe configuration. The aircraft, constructed from a modified MD-90 plane at Boeing's Palmdale, California facility, holds the distinction of being NASA's inaugural X-plane dedicated to reaching a net-zero aviation greenhouse gas emission target.

The anticipated fusion of advancements in systems architecture, propulsion systems, and materials could revolutionize the aviation landscape. Aircraft with a TTBW configuration, in particular, could experience up to a 30% drop in fuel consumption and emissions relative to the present-day fleet of single-aisle aircraft.

The coalition of U.S. airlines will play a crucial role throughout the project's life cycle:

Design Phase: Airlines will weigh in on sustainability measures and airport compatibility. Intriguingly, while the X-66A will flaunt a 145-foot wingspan, the TTBW design's versatility means it can adapt to aircraft of varying sizes. A noteworthy feature to consider could be folding wing tips to seamlessly integrate with existing airport structures.

Simulation and Lab Testing: Pilots will get an authentic feel of the X-66A through flight simulators, offering feedback on its handling dynamics.

Flight Testing: Slated for 2028 and 2029, the airlines' operations and maintenance teams will evaluate the X-66A's real-time performance. All flight tests will originate from NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center situated at Edwards Air Force Base.