NASA Designates New X-Plane


NASA announced on Monday that the aircraft to be produced through its Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project will be the agency’s next X-Plane. Designated the X-66A, the modified MD-90 will feature “long, thin wings with engines mounted underneath and a set of aerodynamic trusses for support.” Designed to “inform a potential new generation of more sustainable single-aisle aircraft,” the X-66A transonic truss-braced wing concept is expected consume up to 30 percent less fuel and produce fewer emissions than current best-in-class aircraft.

“The Sustainable Flight Demonstrator builds on NASA’s world-leading efforts in aeronautics as well [as] climate,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “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.”

As previously reported by AVweb, Boeing was awarded a research grant to build the full-scale transonic truss-braced wing demonstrator last January. The company, which will test and fly the aircraft in addition to doing the modification work, will receive $425 million over seven years via a Funded Space Act Agreement with NASA. Boeing and other partners will cover the remainder of the project’s expected $725 million price tag.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. Ridiculous. Why does Boeing need a contract with NASA to build a new plane? Because it’s no longer a private company or operating in a free market.
    One of the many advantages of capitalism is that it makes the players risk their own resources and reap the benefits or losses. The reason Airbus and other can compete with US manufacturers is that we’ve destroyed our own free market. Don’t go looking for any single reason either. The government has destroyed our economy with a thousand cuts, and we need a similar process on the government to get our economy back.

    • I don’t know if You’re old, Mr. Eric W, but sure Your considerations are, IMHO, quite correct and reflecting the reality (as a new men) of this strange contry that USA has been transformed since Mr. Obama and alikes started the mission to crack it down.

      • I changed my name because I saw a new Eric W on the site.

        I’m old by any standard other than the a web average 🤣😂🤣.

  2. I left aero engineering to become a pilot twenty years ago because I was sick of seeing huge amounts of money being wasted on projects we all knew were pointless (e.g. single stage to orbit). They studied this configuration 60 years ago and rejected it.

    How about giving 10% of the money to Cessna to restart production on the 210 and 182RG?
    Those are the two best light airplanes ever made, better than anything before or since if you objectively look at the numbers.

    I’m sure Boeing is making huge profits off the Ukraine grift. They don’t need a welfare project.

    • and that’s MY feeling on the X-59 project, as well. Why is the Government NASA subsidizing research for others?

    • Well, This is certainly not cutting edge, revolutionary, or even better.
      It’s a rather ugly attempt at the problem and the “expected efficiency” rivals speeches by Jim Bede.
      $725 million is a bit much for an externally braced monoplane.