JetZero wins $235 million USAF award for piloted blended wing body demonstrator

In a major win for commercial aerospace startup JetZero, the U.S. Air Force on Wednesday awarded $235 million to the company to build an airliner-scale and piloted blended wing body demonstrator in partnership with Northrop Grumman and Scaled Composites.

The award from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Innovation Unit (DiU) will provide the funds over four years and culminate in a first flight of the full-scale demonstrator in the first quarter of 2027. The aircraft, which will be powered by a pair of the high thrust PW1000-series geared turbofan engines, will be assembled with Scaled in Mojave, California. Additional capital beyond the DiU award will be required to complete the demonstrator.

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While JetZero hasn’t specified the precise dimensions of the demonstrator, the novel blended wing configuration is sized to be equivalent to a 200 to 250-seat commercial airliner. Over the longer term, the USAF has sought a next generation blended wing tanker based on a commercial derivative platform. JetZero aspires to bring a blended wing design to the world’s airlines, promising as much as a 50% improvement in fuel consumption.

The Air Current, which visited JetZero’s Long Beach, California headquarters last week, will have an extended feature on the company’s efforts to prove blended wing body technology has a path to commercial viability.

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