Aircraft

NASA technologies could save US airlines roughly $250 billion in operational costs

NASA technologies could save U...
One of the innovations under the ERA would allow aircraft to be built with smaller tail fins, by integrating tiny air nozzles in the structure that allow for increased control with a smaller surface area
One of the innovations under the ERA would allow aircraft to be built with smaller tail fins, by integrating tiny air nozzles in the structure that allow for increased control with a smaller surface area
View 1 Image
One of the innovations under the ERA would allow aircraft to be built with smaller tail fins, by integrating tiny air nozzles in the structure that allow for increased control with a smaller surface area
1/1
One of the innovations under the ERA would allow aircraft to be built with smaller tail fins, by integrating tiny air nozzles in the structure that allow for increased control with a smaller surface area

According to NASA, US airlines could save up to 250 billion dollars between 2025 and2050. It will all be thanks to green technology pioneered by the agency and industrypartners, as part of NASA's Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA)project.

ERA concluded in 2015after a set six-year running period that focused on the developmentand testing of eight eco-friendly technologies. The project receivedover $400 million of NASA funding, with industry partners such asBoeing and Pratt & Whitney contributing around $250 million worthof resources.

Technologies developedunder the ERA program would seek to dramatically reduce fuelconsumption, aircraft noise and the pollution that comes as an inevitablebyproduct of air travel. This would be achieved by increasing engineefficiency and refinement paired with a number of advancements inoverall airplane design.

For example, as part ofthe project, NASA partnered up with Boeing researchers to test out aprotective coating that could be applied to aircraft wings in orderto significantly reduce the aerodynamic drag caused by insectsadhering to the wing. Another innovation would reduce weight anddrag by allowing the integration of a shorter vertical tail fin byutilizing embedded air nozzles, providing increased stability anddirectional control of air flow over current designs.

Other technologiesincluded the innovation of a system that would allow the wing of anaircraft to deploy the aerodynamic flaps that allow a conventionalaircraft to manipulate its trajectory in the air without exposinggaps in the wing structure. This would have the dual effect ofreducing aircraft noise and increasing fuel efficiency due to reduceddrag.

Based on computersimulations, alongside the projected $250 billion saving, NASAforecasts that implementation of the green technologies could cutUS aviation pollution by 75 percent, while reducing noise levels toone-eighth their current level.

Source: NASA

6 comments
Don Duncan
Will this efficiency be seen in military planes? Is it sold or given away? Will it be available to all?
MD
Circulation control take 2. Aileron and flap hinge sealing, what a revelation. Maybe NASA could take some lessons from model aviation, or maybe they should read their own archives.
Bob
Reducing the size of the vertical tail would be a safety hazard on many planes. On multi engine planes, an engine failure while under full power on takeoff is one of the most deadly scenarios. It takes a fairly large tail to control the off center thrust and torque of the remaining engines and still continue to gain altitude. A plane with too small a tail will roll and dive into the ground unless the power is immediately reduced to the other engines. This usually results in an immediate crash landing. After many years as a test pilot, my Father said no multi engine plane should ever have too small a tail for control or be so under powered that it could not maintain altitude with a failure of one engine. Fortunately, most single engine planes are quite small and a forced landing on take off is not the disaster of an airliner in a residential area. The video of the Taiwan TransAsia plane crash last year showed a lack of control and not enough power to maintain altitude. Hopefully, new aircraft designs will not trade fuel economy for safety.
Stephen N Russell
will airlines follow suit & adapt, adopt, Give Incentives to use Tech for all flying public worldwide.
christopher
So in summary, nothing that can actually be done, inside a 10-year multi-billion-dollar "safety evaluation" window. Our obsession with making "no mistakes" is the reason we're flying around in 1970's aluminium tubes still... nobody can afford to fix the big problems anymore.
Grunchy
They could go full-Rutan and ditch the negative-lift tail plane, and instead use a positive-lift canard. The stall properties are different, but that doesn't mean it's guaranteed to crash. Probably we are obligated to wait for the Rutans to pass away first, you know, so they don't try to snatch any credit.