Air travel remains one of the largest contributors to global warming in the transportation sector, producing 915 million tonnes of CO2 worldwide in 2019, per ATAG. In an effort to usher in a more sustainable era of flight, NASA announced Thursday that it is seeking partners “to develop technologies needed to shape a new generation of lower-emission, single-aisle airliners that passengers could see in airports in the 2030s.”
NASA is looking to fund the design, building, testing and flying of large-scale demonstrators as part of its new Announcement for Partnership Proposals program. Specifically, the agency seeks to “reduce carbon emissions from aviation and ensure US competitiveness in a high-demand area of aircraft design — single-aisle commercial airliners.”
“In the coming years, global air mobility will continue to grow at a steady pace, and single aisle aircraft will continue to carry the majority of that passenger traffic,” Bob Pearce, NASA associate administrator for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, said in Thursday’s media release. “Working with industry, NASA intends to seize this opportunity to meet our aggressive environmental goals while fostering continued global leadership of the U.S. aviation industry.”
This effort comes as part of the White House’s US Aviation Climate Action Plan, which itself aims to make make aviation emissions carbon-neutral by 2050. To help reach that deadline, NASA is planning to have these demonstrators ready by the end of the decade so that the lessons learned can be applied to the next generation of single-aisle aircraft coming in the 2030s. NASA plans to select at least one industry partner early next year, granting them funding and access to NASA facilities at Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California.
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