Future Boeing company Aurora Flight Sciences is set to continue developing the subsonic D8 X-Plane (XD8), Aurora said. NASA has awarded the firm with a 12-month contract.
The XD8 program aims to demonstrate key technologies of the D8 commercial aircraft concept. The aircraft could improve fuel, noise and operational efficiencies within the next decade, according to Aurora. NASA hopes to reduce risk and cost of future X-Plane procurements by utilizing block tests before the aircraft’s first flight.
Aurora said the D8 evolved from its early work on the NASA N+3 program. A team comprising Aurora, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Pratt & Whitney was awarded a contract in 2009 to study technology and design for transport-class aircraft that could enter service in the 2030s. So far, the D8 has gone through two wind tunnel test campaigns. The XD8 has completed both a System Requirements Review and Concept Design Review.
“The recent first flight of the Chinese C919 shows other nations want to tap into the huge commercial airliner market,” said Aurora Chairman and CEO John Langford. “The D8 is part of a sustained innovation initiative aimed at keeping world leadership here in the U.S."