JetZero airliner gains $235m US Air Force Award

Render of a US Air Force backed JetZero airliner.
Image Credit: JetZero

In a step towards a greener future for aviation, the US Air Force is taking a pioneering stance by investing in JetZero’s groundbreaking aircraft design.

This innovative move aims to not only revolutionize air travel but also contribute significantly to reducing carbon emissions and noise pollution, all while enhancing the overall passenger experience.

JetZero’s commitment to eco-friendly aviation is underscored by their plan to construct a full-scale demonstrator to validate the remarkable performance of their Blended Wing Body (BWB) aircraft design.

Meeting the Challenge of Decarbonization

With air traffic projected to increase by 3.6 percent annually, the challenge of decarbonizing the aviation industry becomes more pressing than ever. According to Cirium, a reputable aviation analytics firm, the global airline fleet is set to nearly double to 47,700 aircraft by 2041.

This exponential growth magnifies the urgency of finding sustainable solutions. In this context, JetZero’s aircraft design emerges as a pivotal player in mitigating the industry’s carbon footprint.


JetZero’s demonstrator, a precursor to an anticipated family of BWB aircraft, embraces current engines and systems. The BWB design has been a topic of study for over three decades, with NASA and other entities exploring its potential.

One of its most enticing features is its adaptability for future conversion to hydrogen propulsion, a prospect that holds the promise of producing zero carbon emissions.

Fueling the Vision

Under the commendable award granted by the Department of Defense’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), JetZero is set to receive a substantial investment of $235 million over a span of four years.

This funding will culminate in the debut flight of the full-scale demonstrator by the first quarter of 2027.

The DIU, established in 2015, serves the noble purpose of accelerating the integration of emerging commercial technologies into the US military.

A Collaborative Force

JetZero’s journey towards eco-friendly aviation is paved with collaboration. They have joined forces with industry giants Northrop Grumman and Scaled Composites. These partners bring a wealth of expertise in advanced aircraft design, manufacturing, and mission systems integration.

In a strategic move, JetZero has selected Pratt & Whitney GTF™ engines to power their demonstrator. The design and integration of the propulsion system within the demonstrator are being supported by Pratt & Whitney GATORWORKS.

A Greener Future

JetZero’s CEO, Tom O’Leary, expresses unwavering confidence in the BWB design as a game-changer in the pursuit of zero carbon emissions. O’Leary affirms that the BWB design offers a remarkable 50% reduction in fuel consumption using present-day engines.

Its inherent airframe efficiency acts as a catalyst for transitioning to zero carbon emissions propulsion in the future. According to O’Leary, no other proposed aircraft design comes close to matching this level of efficiency.


JetZero emerges as a frontrunner in the movement to expand BWB technology and demonstrate its potential for both military and commercial aviation markets, as evidenced by the recent US Air Force award backing.

With their collaborative approach, innovative vision, and unwavering commitment to sustainability, JetZero is poised to reshape the aviation landscape, propelling it towards a future characterized by reduced carbon emissions, enhanced efficiency, and a more enjoyable passenger experience.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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