NASA is seeking partners to develop technologies needed to shape a new generation of lower-emission, single-aisle airliners that passengers could see in airports in the 2030s.
Through its new Announcement for Partnership Proposals, NASA intends to fund one or more awards to design, build, test and fly a large-scale demonstrator with an advanced airframe configuration, as well as related technologies. The agency’s Sustainable Flight Demonstrator (SFD) project aims to reduce carbon emissions from aviation and ensure U.S. competitiveness in a high-demand area of aircraft design — single-aisle commercial airliners.
NASA is targeting technology for single-aisle aircraft — the workhorse of many airline fleets – which account for nearly half of worldwide aviation emissions.
“Since its creation, NASA has worked with industry to develop and implement innovative aeronautics technology — and has shared with the world,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Now, with this ambitious new project, we’re again joining with U.S. industry to usher in a new era of cutting-edge improvements that will make the global aviation industry cleaner, quieter, and more sustainable.”
The agency innovates for the benefit of humanity and any new aircraft and technologies developed through this project will help the United States achieve net-zero carbon emissions from aviation by 2050 – one of the environmental goals articulated in the White House’s U.S. Aviation Climate Action Plan.
NASA’s plan is to complete project testing by the late 2020s so any new green technologies can be validated and inform industry decisions about the next generation of single-aisle aircraft entering the market by the 2030s.
“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,” said Bob Pearce, NASA associate administrator for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate. “Working with industry, NASA intends to seize this opportunity to meet our aggressive environmental goals while fostering continued global leadership of the U.S. aviation industry.”
NASA expects to select at least one industry partner in early 2023 for a Funded Space Act Agreement with the agency’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. Such an agreement would provide funding and access to NASA facilities and expertise. The agreement would capitalize on private industry knowledge and experience, with an awardee laying out a proposed technical plan and contributing significant funding to the project.
For this type of agreement, NASA would not procure an aircraft or any other hardware for its missions – the goal is maturing new and innovative technologies and capabilities. The industry partner will design, build, test, and fly a large-scale demonstrator, and NASA will obtain ground and flight data that agency and industry teams can use to validate the airframe configuration and associated technologies.
The flight project is an activity under NASA’s Integrated Aviation Systems Program, and it is a key element of the Sustainable Flight National Partnership, which focuses on developing new sustainable commercial transport vehicle technologies.