Long Beach, California – At the close of 2007, Time Magazine declared Apple’s iPhone as the Invention of the Year. The runner up was Boeing’s X-48B — a blended wing body aircraft that validated the design and control attributes of the 8.5% scale demonstrator with NASA and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. Time wrote it wouldn’t be available as a product for at least 15 to 20 years, but “don’t count on it ever going commercial.”
In a strange twist of industrial fate, the creators of both have come together for their next act: riding a growing wave of shifting U.S. industrial policy in a high-stakes technological fly-off for the future of the global jetliner market.
On Wednesday, startup JetZero was awarded $235 million over four years by the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Innovation Unit to develop a first-of-its-kind, full-scale piloted blended wing demonstrator. JetZero, Northrop Grumman and Scaled Composites will produce an aircraft that, if successful, could not only validate a radical 50% step change in structural and fuel efficiency, but also establish a new entrant in commercial aviation — an environment existentially inhospitable to new aspirants.
“Everybody wants to know, are we going to be here in 2031?” said JetZero CEO Tom O’Leary in a recent interview with The Air Current during a visit to the company’s headquarters at the Long Beach Airport. “Our answer to that is, the marathon begins with mile one. And for us, mile one was a conceptual design. And we got validation on that conceptual design with a program from the Air Force.”
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.