When it comes to aeronautical technology it comes as no surprise to learn that NASA is always one step ahead of everyone else. After all, they do build spacecraft. Their recent announcement about a new project just goes to prove how much further advanced they truly are – by saving billions of dollars for US airlines. And, doing their bit to save the planet too.
NASA began their Environmentally Responsible Aviation project nearly 7 years ago now, with over 6 years of developing, testing and trialling. At the end of 2015 they concluded that they were ready to bring their new technology into the mainstream, particularly with US airlines. Eight environmentally friendly technologies have been developed and tested over their 6-year run, many of which will soon be ready to be put to good use. NASA put $400 million of its own cash into the project, with other big names in aviation also contributing to the pot; such as Pratt & Whitney and Boeing. This green technology has a focus on reducing pollution, fuel consumption, and even aircraft noise. Combined, it’s thought that US Airlines could save in excess of 250 billion dollars between 2025 and 2050.
A Green Focus
While air travel may be improving there are some key drawbacks that have caused concerns over the years. The noise, the pollution, the fuel consumption, and the carbon footprint being some of the many factors. The ERA Project has focused on increasing the overall refinement and efficiency of aircraft engines, while also looking at how to improve the design of planes through several important advancements. One example of this was a protective coating that has been developed and tested, which is thought to reduce the drag caused by insects on airplane wings. Embedded air nozzles on a shorter tail fin could improve the directional air flow and further reduce drag and weight. These are just some of the eight environmentally friendly technologies that NASA has been working on, alongside companies such as Boeing.
The project was concluded in 2015, which means that it is now just a case of implementing some of the new, green technologies on aircraft. This could be a lengthy (and potentially expensive) process, which is why we’re unlikely to see any real advancements until 2025. However, math geeks at NASA have put forward some rather impressive figures which are sure to get US airlines to sit up and pay attention. The idea of saving over 250 billion dollars over 25 years is surely enough to make the aviation industry want to get involved – not just in the US, but around the world too. Not only that, but with stricter environmental rules for businesses, it could help the aviation industry do their bit in reducing carbon footprints.
These new technologies are not just another load of brownie points for NASA, they’re a way this planet can greatly reduce its carbon footprint. By making air travel more environmentally friendly, and saving airlines money, we could all feel a little less guilt next time we step aboard a Boeing 747 for our vacation in the Bahamas.