NASA seeks partners to develop lower-emission airliners

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NASA has announced it’s actively seeking partners to help create a new lower-emission, short-haul aircraft to enter service in the 2030s.

NASA seeks partners to develop lower-emission airliners

The agency said it would fund one or more projects to design, build and test a “large-scale demonstrator,” which is scheduled to include an airframe configuration and related technologies.

“Since its creation, NASA has worked with industry to develop and implement innovative aeronautics technology — and has shared with the world,” Bill Nelson, NASA administrator, said.

“Now, with this ambitious new project, we’re again joining with US industry to usher in a new era of cutting-edge improvements that will make the global aviation industry cleaner, quieter, and more sustainable.”

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The program is expected to work in tandem with NASA’s Sustainable Flight Demonstrator (SFD) project, designed to reduce emissions from aviation and improve airline competitiveness.

The announcement also forms part of the agency’s larger Integrated Aviation Systems Program and is fundamental to its Sustainable Flight National Partnership.

NASA added it hoped the new project would help the US achieve net zero by 2050 and benefit humanity. To achieve this, NASA aims to complete project testing by the end of the 2020s.

“In the coming years, global air mobility will continue to grow at a steady pace, and single-aisle aircraft will continue to carry the majority of that passenger traffic,” Bob Pearce, NASA associate administrator for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, said.

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“Working with industry, NASA intends to seize this opportunity to meet our aggressive environmental goals while fostering continued global leadership of the US aviation industry.”

According to the current schedule, the administration hopes to select its first industry partner by early 2023. The partner will then receive a Funded Space Act Agreement with NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, where they can utilise cutting-edge facilities and expertise.

NASA confirmed that it would not be procuring an aircraft; rather the partner will design, test and fly a large-scale demonstrator while NASA provides ground and flight feedback data. 

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