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NASA & Boeing To "Shape Future Of Aviation" With X-66A

The X-66A has the potential to shape the future of aviation by informing the development of a new generation of sustainable single-aisle aircraft.

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Zac Aubert

Zac Aubert

Sat Jun 17 2023Written by Zac Aubert

NASA's latest experimental aircraft, designed in collaboration with Boeing as part of NASA's Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project, has been given a name. The United States Air Force has designated the plane as the X-66A.

This groundbreaking aircraft is the first X-plane specifically designed to help the United States achieve its net-zero goal for aviation greenhouse gas emissions, as outlined in the U.S. Aviation Climate Action Plan released by the White House in 2021.

According to NASA, the X-66A has the potential to shape the future of aviation by informing the development of a new generation of sustainable single-aisle aircraft.

Single-aisle aircraft currently serve as the backbone of passenger air travel but also contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for approximately half of aviation emissions globally. By creating a sustainable version of these aircraft, the X-66A has the potential to make a major impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

"The X-66A will help shape the future of aviation, a new era where aircraft are greener, cleaner, and quieter and create new possibilities for the flying public and American industry alike." - NASA Administrator Bill Nelson

Under a Funded Space Act Agreement between NASA and Boeing, NASA will invest $425 million over seven years in the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project. In addition to providing facilities and technical expertise, Boeing and its partners will contribute an estimated $725 million to the project's funding.

Together, they will build and fly a full-scale demonstration of the X-66A, featuring extra-long, thin wings stabilized by diagonal struts in a design known as a "Transonic Truss-Braced Wing."


The X-66A has achieved the prestigious status of an X-plane, a designation granted by the Air Force to development programs focused on creating revolutionary experimental aircraft configurations. X-planes are primarily research aircraft designed to test novel designs and new technologies that can be integrated into future aircraft.

In the case of the X-66A, the Transonic Truss-Braced Wing configuration, combined with advancements in propulsion systems and materials, could potentially reduce fuel consumption by 30% and significantly lower emissions compared to current "best-in-class" aircraft.

"With the learnings gained from design, construction, and flight testing, we'll have an opportunity to shape the future of flight and contribute to the decarbonization of aerospace." - Todd Citron, Boeing's Chief Technology Officer

The X-66A joins a long line of X-planes developed by NASA and its predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), dating back to the 1940s.

With its focus on emission reduction, the X-66A is poised to be one of the most significant X-planes to date.