New jet prototype could use 70% less fuel

A NASA sponsored competition to design futuristic, fuel efficient airplanes has led to a jet prototype that the designers claim would burn roughly 70% less fuel than current aircraft.

Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology designed what they called a D-series 'double bubble' jet, which features a wide fuselage composed of two partial cylinders fused together in an aerodynamic shape.

The prototype also has a smaller tail, skinnier wings, and engines mounted on the rear of the fuselage instead of the wings, which allows the engines to suck in slower moving air and increase efficiency. According to the MIT team, these changes and use of lighter materials help the plane burn 70% less fuel.

In addition to designing this subsonic model, the MIT team designed a supersonic model that they said would also sharply cut fuel consumption. The NASA competition — known as 'N+3' to denote three generations beyond today's commercial fleet — also included designs from Boeing, GE Aviation, and Northrop Grumman.

Chris Shaw

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