Work on NASA’s Transonic Truss-Braced Wing (TTBW) project is gathering pace after an MD-90 aircraft was ferried to a Boeing site where it will be modified for testing.

The X-66A is NASA’s first experimental plane which will help the US achieve its goal of net-zero aviation greenhouse gas emissions. It falls under the organisation’s NASA’s Sustainable Flight Demonstrator programme.

Boeing and NASA leaders gathered at the company’s facility in Palmdale, California, after the jet made its journey from Victorville on Thursday.

Modification will begin soon and ground and flight testing is expected to begin in 2028.

Transonic Truss-Braced Wing design

“This marks an important step in the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project, advances Boeing’s commitment to sustainability and brings us closer to testing and validating the TTBW design,” said Boeing Chief Technology Officer Todd Citron.

With ultrathin wings braced by struts with larger spans and higher-aspect ratios, the TTBW design and other expected technological advances could lead to reductions in fuel use and emissions by up to 30%.

Boeing and NASA have collaborated for more than a decade on the concept through the Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research (SUGAR) programme.

“We at NASA are excited to be working with Boeing on the X-66A Sustainable Flight Demonstrator making critical contributions to accelerate aviation towards its 2050 net-zero greenhouse gas emission goal,” said Ed Waggoner, deputy associate administrator for programmes in the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate.
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