WASHINGTON — NASA has awarded research contracts worth a total of $12.4 million to six industry teams to study advanced concepts for subsonic and supersonic commercial transport aircraft that could enter service in 25 to 30 years.
NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate selected teams led by The Boeing Company, GE Aviation, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Northrop Grumman to receive separate 18-month study contracts valued at approximately $2 million each.
The focus of the studies is on commercial transports that can overcome significant performance and environmental challenges for the benefit of the general public. The work is intended to identify key technology development needs, such as advanced airframes and propulsion systems, as well as breakthroughs that will enable such vehicles to enter service in 2030-2035. The vehicles represent a research and development generation known as "N+3," denoting three generations beyond the current commercial transport fleet.
"The future of air transportation is all about protecting the environment and responding to increasing energy costs in a balanced way," said Juan Alonso, director of NASA’s Fundamental Aeronautics Program at NASA’s Headquarters in Washington. "We will need airplanes that are quieter and more fuel efficient, and cleaner-burning fuels to power them. We are challenging industry to introduce these new technologies without impairing the convenience, safety and security of commercial air transportation."
The studies constitute the first phase of a two-phase acquisition involving a competitive down-selection process. Participants who successfully complete the first phase will be asked to submit proposals for Phase 2, which provides additional funds for initial research on the enabling technologies identified in Phase 1.
The Phase 1 research projects are listed below, including team members and award amounts.
Development of Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research: The Boeing Company, Georgia Institute of Technology, GE Global Research and GE Aviation; $1.9 million.
Small Commercial Efficient and Quiet Air Transportation for 2030-2035: GE Aviation, GE Global Research, Georgia Institute of Technology and Cessna Aircraft Company; $1.97 million.
Aircraft and Technology Concepts for an N+3 Subsonic Transport: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Aurora Flight Sciences, Aerodyne Research Inc., Pratt and Whitney and Boeing Phantom Works; $2.13 million.
Advanced Concept Studies for Subsonic Commercial Transport Aircraft Entering Service in the 2030-2035 Time Period: Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation, Tufts University, Sensis Corporation, Spirit Aerosystems Corp. and Rolls-Royce North America Inc.; $1.97 million.
Advanced Concepts Studies for Supersonic Commercial Transport Aircraft Entering Service in the 2030-2035 Time Period: The Boeing Company, Boeing Phantom Works, GE Global Research, Georgia Institute of Technology, M4 Engineering Inc., Pratt and Whitney, Rolls Royce and Wyle Labs; $2.28 million.
NASA N+3 Supersonic, Three Generations Forward in Aviation Technology: Lockheed Martin Corporation, GE Global Research, Purdue University and Wyle Laboratories; $1.96 million.