NASA said this week it has made a lot of progress with its Environmentally Responsible Aviation project for reducing the industry's noise, emissions and fuel burn, and announced plans to take its work from the laboratory into flight testing. "The real challenge is to integrate ideas and pieces together," said Fay Collier, ERA project manager for NASA. "Our next steps will help us work towards that goal." NASA announced eight projects that will run through 2015, including more research on its hybrid blended-wing-body design, which could reduce fuel consumption by more than 50 percent while also reducing noise on the ground.
Other ERA projects will include flight trials for quieter flaps and landing gear, and for technology that can manipulate the airflow over the tail of an airliner. Researchers also will assess the airworthiness of low-weight composite structures, and test various improvements to turbofan engines to improve fuel efficiency and reduce noise. Each project involves industry partners who will contribute to the funding. More details can be found at NASA's aeronautics website.