Last month, the team presented the designs to NASA to develop performance and environmentally-friendly concepts that will help guide the agency’s aeronautics research over the next 25 years. MIT was the only university to lead one of the six U.S. teams that won contracts with NASA in October 2008. The MIT team studies concepts for subsonic commercial planes.
Besides the fact that these aircraft consume less fuel, they also will be able to take off from shorter runways. The team has come up with 2 designs: the 350-passenger H “Hybrid Wing Body” series to replace the 777 class aircraft used for international flights and the 180-passenger D “Double Bubble” series to replace the Boeing 737 class aircraft.
Not only does the D series meet NASA’s long-term fuel burn, emissions reduction and runway length objectives, but it could also offer large benefits in the near future because the MIT team designed two versions: a higher technology version with 70 percent fuel-burn reduction, and a version that could be built with conventional aluminum and current jet technology that would burn 50 percent less fuel and might be more attractive as a lower risk, shorter-term alternative.