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NASA seeks proposals to guide development of X-planes

25 July 2016

NASA is looking for partners in its efforts to design revolutionary X-planes to help demonstrate greener, quieter airliner technologies.

NASA and its partners plan to design, build and fly X-planes fueled by green energy, that use half the fuel and are only half as loud. (Credits: NASA/Lillian Gipson)

The agency has put out a request for proposals that would outline some of the system requirements for concepts that would support its Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate's Ultra-Efficient Subsonic Transport Thrust.

seeks to further develop technology with US industry and other government partners that will allow revolutionary transport aircraft to simultaneously reduce the fleet-level carbon footprint of aviation by at least 50 percent, and reduce perceived community noise levels by one half, while significantly reducing landing and take-off emissions around airports.

The objective of the request for proposal is to help NASA to define the technical approach, schedule and cost for proceeding with potential X-plane procurements. The emphasis of the proposal should be on X-plane development plans, including scale, complexity, and readiness, as well as previous flight test and X-plane experiences and lessons learned.

NASA is investigating using X-plane flight demonstrators to mature new promising, as well as previously studied, technologies and configurations that would advance its ambitious environmental goals for future airliners.

Concepts should be human-piloted X-planes, capable of flying for three hours in at least two research fights a week over a year and able to fit into future national air transportation system operations. The first flight would be no later than 2021.

Proposals should include a comprehensive description and technology maturation plan, including ground and flight test requirements. Potential X-planes can be either integrated or purpose built. Integrated X-planes will be designed and flown to demonstrate the impact of a suite of integrated technologies at the aircraft system level. Purpose-built X-planes will be designed and flown to demonstrate the isolated impact of a specific multi-disciplinary technology. 

NASA will use the data gathered from the contracts awarded under this solicitation to assist in the development of its X-plane requirements. Proposals are due by Aug. 18. Initial awards to qualified participants will be six months in duration.

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