Two Boeing-led teams completed submitted their findings from an 18-month study to NASA under a program called N+3, which denotes three generations beyond today’s transport fleet. After examining various subsonic and supersonic concepts, the teams came up with configurations that met the NASA-stated goals for dramatic improvements in operational and environmental performance over today’s aircraft.

The Boeing subsonic team, which includes General Electric and Georgia Tech, looked at five concepts. The team’s report provides detailed benefits and drawbacks as well as recommendations for further study, but doesn’t show favorites. “No single concept met all of the study goals, so we did not pick a preferred concept,” said Boeing’s Marty Bradley, the team’s leader.

However, the team found that one concept known as SUGAR Volt – which includes an electric battery gas turbine hybrid propulsion system – can reduce fuel burn by more than 70 percent and total energy use by 55 percent. This fuel burn reduction and the “greening” of the electrical power grid can greatly reduce emissions of life cycle carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. Hybrid electric propulsion also has the potential to shorten takeoff distance and reduce noise. Read More