The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

NASA Designates Boeing's Transonic Truss-braced Wing Concept As An X-Plane

NASA has designated the next-generation single-aisle airliner concept it is jointly working on with Boeing as the X-66A. In a June 12 statement, the agency said Boeing will now build, test and fly a full-scale demonstrator aircraft, featuring extra-long, thin wings attached to the fuselage with diagonal struts the partners refer to as the transonic truss-braced wing concept.

Under the White House’s U.S. Aviation Climate Action Plan, the X-66A is the first NASA X-plane program to be specifically focused on efforts to achieve net zero carbon emissions from air transport. The program is supported by the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project, for which NASA announced a contract earlier this year.

NASA has a Funded Space Act Agreement with Boeing covering a $425 million investment over seven years. The aerospace group and its partners will contribute an additional $725 million in funds for the work.

X-plane programs, which fall under the remit of the U.S. Air Force, are generally intended to test designs and technologies that can be adopted by other aircraft designs, rather than serving as prototypes for specific production aircraft. “We are incredibly proud of this designation because it means the X-66A will be the next in a long line of experimental aircraft used to validate breakthrough designs that have transformed aviation,” said Boeing’s chief technology officer Todd Citron. “With the learnings gained from design, construction, and flight testing, we’ll have the opportunity to shape the future of flight and contribute to the decarbonization of aerospace.”