Boeing will fly CFM’s open fan on Sustainable Flight Demonstrator

Boeing sees long life for X-66A, the NASA lower-emissions test aircraft

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Release Date
June 21, 2023
Boeing will test CFM’s advanced open fan architecture with a radical
PARIS — Boeing and NASA’s Sustainable Flight Demonstrator, recently designated the X-66A, is expected to join the company as a long-term test bed for new technologies, said the company’s head of airplane development. The heavily modified truss-braced design is also expected to become a test platform for CFM International’s advanced open fan RISE engine.

“I don’t believe it’ll be in a museum in 2031,” said Mike Sinnett, Boeing Vice President of Product Development for its commercial airplanes division. “Part of the work that we did on the initial proposal was to consider what future spirals [of technology insertion] might be.”

Related: NASA gives Boeing a second shot at reshaping commercial aviation

The SFD and its advanced aerodynamic configuration has captured Boeing’s attention for more than a decade and is seen by some as representing the company’s best shot at replacing the 737 Max with a significant step change in efficiency in the second half of the decade.

Boeing is set to adapt a pair of legacy McDonnell Douglas MD-90-30 aircraft, significantly shortening their fuselage while adding an entirely new carbon fiber composite truss-braced wing system to the aircraft. The transonic truss-braced swing (TTBW) concept has been under study with multiple rounds of wind tunnel testing for a decade, Sinnett said. “We finally got to the point where we needed to build it and fly it to make sure that we really understood the value.”

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