Researchers at MIT say they have come up with designs for a new generation of commercial aircraft that could use as much as 70 percent less fuel than today's airliners.
As part of a $2.1 million NASA grant, the MIT-led team said that its designs for a so-called "N+3" airplane--meaning three generations beyond today's airplanes--could leverage new technologies like advanced airframe configurations and propulsion systems and could deliver the 70 percent fuel savings by around 2035.
In a release, Ed Greitzer, an aeronautics and astronautics professor at MIT, said that meeting NASA's criteria for new, highly-efficient aircraft designs would require a "radical change" from the current aviation paradigm. That's mainly because airplanes largely have the same design today as they've had for the last 50 years--an "easily recognizable 'tube and wing' structure of an aircraft's wings and fuselage."
But Greitzer's team crafted two designs that could upend the traditional airplane paradigm. One is a 180-passenger D "double bubble" series, which could eventually replace the Boeing 737 that is used for so much domestic travel; and the 350-passenger H "hybrid wing body" series, which could take the place of the popular Boeing 777 used for many international flights. … Read more