A Sneak Peek into the Future

NASA has issued illustrations of future civil aircraft concepts that could be in use circa 2025. In late 2010, the agency’s aeronautics sector let contracts to Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman for them to come up with designs that offer less noise, cleaner exhaust, and lower fuel consumption. These notional airplanes must also be able to fly up to Mach 0.85, cover a range of approximately 7,000 miles; and carry between 50,000 pounds and 100,000 pounds of payload, either passengers or cargo. For the rest of this year, NASA said each company will continue to refine its respective design. Although the focus of NASA’s project is non-military, Boeing’s entry, the blended-wing-body concept, a scaled model of which has previously flown, is no stranger to discussions on possible future Air Force cargo or tanker platforms. The Lockheed and Northrop models seem adaptable to such roles as well. (NASA release)