NASA Awards Green Grants

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NASA is crystal balling about the future shape and performance of airplanes and has awarded more than $16.5 million in research grants to four organizations with specific goals to make flight leaner, greener and more lightning-resistant. Of course, $16.5 million won't result in any flyable developments but NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate in Washington says the wind-tunnel models and computer projections could result in technologies that will fly 20 to 30 years from now. "NASA refers to this time period as N+3, representing technology three generations more advanced than what is in service today," the agency said in a news release.

Boeing gets $8.8 million to look into Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft (SUGAR) that will use truss-based wing designs and hybrid electric engines. MIT was awarded $4.6 million to continue with its double bubble airliner design it says can cut fuel burn by 70 percent and provide a roomier ride for 180 pax. Cessna is looking into an aircraft coating called STAR-C2 that will protect against impact and other types of damage and also provide obvious visual evidence of damage. It will also protect against lightning. Northrop Grumman's project is to try to design high-lift wing leading edges without slats, which will cut noise and improve efficiency. That research is worth $1.2 million.