NASA has been working on futuristic aircraft design specifications, contracting Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing to design aircraft for service in 2025 that use less fuel, less polluting and are quieter. The aircraft requirements are quite ambitious, asking for a speed similar to today’s aircraft, flying at around Mach 0.85 (85% of the speed of sound), but with a long range of 7,000 miles (12,964kms) while carrying a 50,000-100,000lbs (22,680- 45,260kgs) of passenger or cargo payload.
The preliminary designs put forward by the companies are quite distinct, with Lockheed Martin’s design employing a conventional central fuselage, plus a swept wing that is joined to its tail section, presumably making use of an efficient structural wing design and maximum lift.
Boeing’s flying wing design allows for great lift and volume, and flying wings have been applied to many military aircraft designs but has not appeared in any large civilian aircraft as of yet.
Northrop Grumman’s design uses two cabins with a centre mounted aircrew cabin and engines. Not having the tail section joined together may make for an interesting flexing of the aircraft wing-centre-section.