NASA awarded three contracts this fall for designs of aircraft that will be flying in 2025 to Boeing, Northrup Grumman and Lockheed Martin. Each one has to be less noisy, more fuel efficient and have cleaner exhaust than planes flying now.
Other specifications by NASA are that they should “fly up to 85 percent of the speed of sound; cover a range of approximately 7,000 miles; and carry between 50,000 and 100,000 pounds of payload, either passengers or cargo.”
Here are the three concept designs as well as some from April and earlier. Not all of them will make it beyond the design stage and some may have already been scrapped, while others could be very close to being seen on our runways in the future.
10. An Iconic Idea
The Icon-II is a design for supersonic flight over land that comes from Boeing. Apart from fulfilling the specifications, it also reduces fuel consumption and airport noise.
9. Green Supersonic Machine
This concept design by Lockheed Martin is one that the company presented to NASA in April of last year and is designed for overland supersonic flight. It showed that by using the inverted V engine under the wing configuration, one can really lower the level of supersonic booms.
8. Blended Wing
These blended wing concept aircraft are from Boeing and one of the three that was shown to NASA when the contract awards were granted in the fall.
7. X-45A UCAV
The UCAV air vehicle was unveiled at a special exhibition in Missouri, along with two other elements of the UCAV system, a mission control and air vehicle storage system.
6. Solar Eagle
The Solar Eagle is Boeing’s entry into the Vulture program by the defense program to create an ultra-long endurance aircraft.
5. The Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research, or SUGAR
SUGAR is a Boeing concept aircraft presented in April 2010 that stands for Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research. It combines gas and battery technology.
Image: NASA/Lockheed Martin
4. Lockheed Martin, Fall
Lockheed Martin’s concept plane this fall doesn’t look so different on the outside except for the wing structure being all one, but it is revolutionary inside, as are all the others.
3. Bigger is Better
This aircraft was presented in April by MIT. Known as the Hybrid Wing Body H series, it is designed to fly at Mach 0.83, carrying 354 passengers over 7,600 nautical miles.
Image: NASA/Northrop Grumman
2. Northrup Grumman, Fall
This is Northrup Grumman’s artist concept, which was presented in the fall of 2010.