The Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate of NASA has recently awarded $16.5 million to four teams from academia and industry through its Fundamental Aeronautics Program for developing a new technology to reduce fuel intake, carbon discharge and noise in aircrafts.
NASA is looking forward to conducting research activities aimed at starting aircraft operations between 2030 and 2035. NASA cites this time frame as N+3 to symbolize that the new technology will be three generations more advanced than the current technology.
The four teams will now develop their ideas into concepts and mockup models and testing them by utilizing computer simulations, wind tunnels and laboratories. The project will be overseen by the program’s Subsonic Fixed Wing Project at Langley Research Center in Virginia and Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. The four teams involved in the project include Boeing Research & Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cessna Aircraft Company and Northrop Grumman Systems.
The Boeing Research & Technology has received an award of $8.8 million for its Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research (SUGAR) project. The new accord signed for a period of three years will enable the Boeing team to collect more reliable data based on its ideas to formulate and build computerized simulations of airplanes and to test them on wind tunnel models. The team will also conduct research on the use of lightweight materials and new engine concepts for building innovative airplane models.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has received an award of $4.6 million for three years to continue research on the general concepts for the N+3 Subsonic Transport airplane. The institute will continue to work on the design of "double bubble" airplane, which includes a twin fuselage and two partial cylinders that are positioned side by side for the purpose of creating a bigger structure than a normal type of tube-and-wing aircraft. The team will try developing a small-core and high- efficient engine technology to manage the wider bodied airplane without actually increasing the size of the engine.
The Cessna Aircraft Company has received an award of $1.9 million for the development of a magic skin that guards planes from lightening effects, extreme temperature, electromagnetic intrusion and impact due to object hitting. The magic skin will repair itself from the damages and the funding from NASA will support the company to test its concepts.
Northrop Grumman Systems was awarded $1.2 million to test the leading edge of the wing and to develop a smoother type of edge devoid of the present standard slats. The distributed flow of air over the wings enables airplanes to fly noiselessly and to guzzle lesser quantity of fuel.