Aircraft arrives at Boeing site for X-66A modification

The Boeing NASA project MD90 aircraft in flight.
Photo Credit: Boeing

Boeing has ferried an MD-90 airplane to the site where it will be modified to test the Transonic Truss-Braced Wing (TTBW) configuration as part of NASA’s Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project.

Boeing, in collaboration with NASA, has moved a further step in the development of the experimental X-66A aircraft.

This groundbreaking project, aimed at advancing sustainable aviation practices, holds the potential to reshape the industry and contribute to the U.S. goal of achieving net-zero aviation greenhouse gas emissions. Let’s delve into the details of this extraordinary endeavor.

Setting the Stage for Sustainable Aviation

Boeing, a name synonymous with aviation innovation, has successfully ferried an MD-90 airplane to its designated site where it will undergo modification for the Transonic Truss-Braced Wing (TTBW) configuration.

This marks a pivotal step in the ambitious NASA Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project. To mark the significance of the occasion, Boeing, NASA representatives, and community leaders gathered at Boeing’s facility to recognize the milestone.


Photo Credits: Boeing

The Journey Unveiled

Boeing unveiled striking photos capturing the journey of the MD-90 airplane from Victorville, California, to Palmdale, where it will be transformed into the X-66A experimental aircraft. This remarkable journey serves as a visual testament to the dedication and collaboration driving this project forward.

The X-66A: Paving the Way for Change

The X-66A aircraft stands as NASA’s inaugural experimental plane specifically designed to contribute to the United States’ ambitious objective of achieving net-zero aviation greenhouse gas emissions.

The modification phase of the X-66A is set to commence shortly, with ground and flight testing anticipated to commence in 2028.

Render of NASA Boeing Sustainable Flight Demonstrator aircraft

Boeing’s Commitment

Boeing’s Chief Technology Officer, Todd Citron, underscored the significance of this achievement by stating, “This marks an important step in the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project, advances Boeing’s commitment to sustainability and brings us closer to testing and validating the TTBW design.”

The Transonic Truss-Braced Wing configuration, characterized by ultrathin wings supported by struts with larger spans and higher-aspect ratios, promises a potential reduction in fuel consumption and emissions by up to 30%.

This innovation aligns with Boeing’s dedication to fostering sustainable aviation practices.

A Decade of Collaboration

The collaboration between Boeing and NASA on the concept of the Transonic Truss-Braced Wing configuration dates back over a decade, with a partnership forged through the Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research (SUGAR) Program.

This shared commitment to pushing the boundaries of aviation technology has culminated in the X-66A aircraft – a symbol of innovation and progress.

Ed Waggoner, Deputy Associate Administrator for Programs in the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, expressed NASA’s support for the project, stating,

“We at NASA are excited to be working with Boeing on the X-66A Sustainable Flight Demonstrator making critical contributions to accelerate aviation towards its 2050 net-zero greenhouse gas emission goal.”

This united vision for a more sustainable aviation industry underlines the transformative potential of the X-66A project.

Palmdale: The Hub of Innovation

The unveiling of the X-66A project took place in Palmdale, a city with a rich history of aerospace innovation.

Congressman Mike Garcia (CA-27) highlighted the significance of Palmdale’s contribution to this project, stating, “Palmdale’s talented workforce and infrastructure make it the perfect location for this important project.”

This recognition solidifies Palmdale’s role as a hub for leading-edge aerospace endeavors.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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