Configured aircraft from NASA

NASA and Boeing are working together to build an experimental aircraft configured to fly with 30% less fuel when compared to similar mainstream craft.

The X-66A will be made from an existing MD-90 single aisle passenger aircraft, shortening the fuselage and replacing its wings and engines, the companies say.

The resulting demonstrator aircraft will have long, thin wings with engines mounted underneath and a set of aerodynamic trusses for support, with a design called a transonic truss-braced wing. Other improvements in propulsion systems, materials, and systems architecture will also have to be carried out, according to Boeing.

The new X-plane seeks to inform a potential new generation of more sustainable single-aisle aircraft – the workhorse of passenger airlines around the world. Working with NASA, Boeing will build, test, and fly a full-scale demonstrator aircraft with extra-long, thin wings stabilized by diagonal struts, known as a Transonic Truss-Braced Wing concept.

“The X-66A will help shape the future of aviation, a new era where aircraft are greener, cleaner, and quieter, and create new possibilities for the flying public and American industry alike,” said NASA administrator Bill Nelson.