NASA's ERA Project Could Save Airlines Billions

New technologies have potential to cut costs, noise and emissions.

Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) projectNASA

NASA announced that researchers at its Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) project have produced technologies that could be a major game changer for the airlines and other heavy jet operators. The agency claims the new technologies could cut airline fuel consumption in half, reduce pollution by 75 percent and drop noise pollution to nearly one-eighth of today's levels.

The ERA researchers came up with eight technology demonstrations, some of which were tested on Boeing's ecoDemonstrator 757 flying laboratory. These included modifications that would allow significant weight reductions in the construction of heavy airframes, a morphing wing technology to reduce drag, several changes to improve engine efficiency, modifications in flap and landing gear deployment, and new wing and engine mounting techniques.

"If these technologies start finding their way into the airline fleet, our computer models show the economic impact could amount to $255 billion in operational savings between 2025 and 2050," said Jaiwon Shin, NASA's associate administrator for aeronautics research.

NASA invested $400 million into the six-year-long project in addition to $250 million worth of resources invested into the project by industry partners.