In order to develop the technologies required to create a new generation of single-aisle, lower-emission aeroplanes, NASA is seeking industry partners. A large-scale demonstrator with an advanced airframe configuration will be built, tested, flown, and designed by a partner with funding from the US space agency in an effort to assist the country reach net-zero aviation carbon emissions by 2050.
Let's face it, NASA routinely develops and launches spacecraft with significant environmental impacts. However, the space agency is also firmly on board with the net-zero movement and frequently identifies net-zero as a major objective. The White House's Aviation Climate Action Plan has the full support of NASA, which is also financing a number of aviation programmes aimed at lessening the industry's environmental impact.
High-end technology is typically used by NASA. But like with many high-end items, the advantages and uses frequently reach the general public. NASA's specialised technology and research regularly find use in civil aviation. However, it appears like NASA is purposely moving away from space in this case and concentrating on planes that are flying closer to the planet.
The agency's Sustainable Flight Demonstrator (SFD) initiative aims to lower carbon emissions and maintain US competitiveness in single-aisle commercial airliners, a high-demand area of aircraft design.
Single-aisle aircraft, the workhorse of many airline fleets and responsible for approximately half of all aviation emissions, are the focus of NASA's technology development. 915 million tonnes of CO2 were created by the aviation industry worldwide in 2019, according to the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG).
In order to validate any new green technology and help the industry make judgments regarding the next generation of single-aisle aircraft that will hit the market in the 2030s, NASA expects to finish project testing by the late 2020s.