NASA’s “New Aviation Horizons” initiative, launched at the end of April 2016, aims to design, build and fly a series of X-planes during the next 10 years as a means to accelerate the adoption of advanced green aviation technologies by industry. According to NASA Aeronautics, the planes will be fueled by greener energy and use half the fuel while producing half the noise of a current aircraft.
“If we can build some of these X-planes and demonstrate some of these technologies, we expect that will make it much easier and faster for U.S. industry to pick them up and roll them out into the marketplace” said Ed Waggoner, NASA’s Integrated Aviation Systems Program director.
NASA announced at the same time their plans for a new technology that would make it possible to break the sound barrier without generating a loud sonic “boom”. A preliminary design was already awarded to Lockheed Martin and the new supersonic X-plane could fly in the 2020 timeframe. If reused, this technology could make it possible for commercial supersonic airliners to fly over land across country.
Another research plane has also be presented more recently. The X-57 “Maxwell” will be powered completely by electricity, using 14 electric motors turning propellers integrated into a uniquely-designed wing. The wing’s design will be longer and skinnier than in current planes allowing the aircraft to be up to five-time more efficient at cruise, thus reducing fuel usage, as well as reducing overall operational costs by as much as 40 percent.
For me this is a huge step made in the right direction by NASA. The future will be green and we have to begin with the designing and researching of new green technologies, the sooner the better.
What do you think of NASA’s new initiative? Leave a comment!