NASA, Boeing Unveil Livery for X-66A Demonstrator

DALLASNASA and Boeing have unveiled the color scheme for its new X-66A truss-braced-wing demonstrator aircraft. The US manufacturer also revealed that six US airlines will join the new Sustainable Flight Demonstrator (SFD) project as part of the OEM’s plan to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. 

Alaska Airlines (AS), American Airlines (AA), Delta Air Lines (DL), Southwest Airlines (WN) and United Airlines (UA) will collaborate on the new project to ‘provide input on operational efficiencies, maintenance, handling characteristics and airport compatibility.’ 

“Hearing directly from the operators during all phases of the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project will help us understand exact requirements and tradeoffs,” said Todd Citron, Boeing’s chief technology officer. “The airlines’ feedback will significantly contribute to the X-66A project learnings while furthering aviation sustainability.”

Image: Boeing.

Airline Feedback

In an official statement, Boeing said that “The US 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.

The X-66A will be configured with Boeing’s Transonic Truss-Braced Wing (TTBW) concept, which will see the wing positioned above the fuselage and supported by trusses. This will allow for a greater wingspan and improved efficiencies of up to 30% compared to current domestic airliners. Open-rotor engines and more-efficient turbofans will also be tested. 

Boeing will utilise a modified MD-90 airframe constructed at its Palmdale, California facility. 

Featured Image: NASA, Boeing has unveiled the livery for its new X-66A Sustainable Flight Demonstrator. Image: NASA.

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