Boeing Awarded Advanced Aircraft Research Grants


Boeing attracted almost half a billion dollars in government research money this week with two projects that challenge contemporary aircraft design. NASA announced it will cover $425 million of the $725 million cost of building a full-scale prototype single-aisle airliner with strut-supported glider-like wings. Boeing and its partners will pay the balance. The projection is that the “transonic truss-braced wing” demonstrator will use 30 percent fuel than a conventional single-aisle airliner. If all goes well, the planes could be in service in a decade or so.

Boeing’s Aurora Flight Sciences is getting $42.4 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to build a full-scale fighter-sized plane that has no movable control services. Instead, the Control of Revolutionary Aircraft with Novel Effectors (CRANE) prototype will navigate the three axes by using strategically aimed jets of air into the slipstream flowing over the aircraft surface. This “active flow control” has the potential to reduce drag and weight, but DARPA is likely also interested in the implication for stealth designs. DARPA is covering the whole cost of the project.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. I guess the struts cessna has used for about a 100 years are cool again when the government is handing out “free” money.

  2. Will this be like the SST; Boeing got money for an unworkable design, utterly changed it into into something more like the Concorde;
    the Boeing SST was never built, not even a test vehicle.

  3. Probably not that significant in a single-aisle but scaled up to 777 class I imagine those wings would present a ground handling problem. And I suppose flex will smooth out the turbulence hits for the paying customers?

  4. There is an in-depth article on Hurel-Bubois designs in the October 2022 issue of AEROPLANE.
    One comment was that the struts supporting the high-aspect ratio wings created a large amount of additional drag.

  5. Yea. Unless it’s got crosswind gear of some type, looks like a crosswind would sure take out the wing tips. I’m sure someone has given that real consideration though. Wonder how though.

  6. Does this mean that the US taxpayers will get 58% of the profits down the road for providing that much of the initial funding?