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In an effort to design a more fuel efficient and aerodynamic aircraft, Boeing has unveiled a new concept jet that looks reminiscent of aircraft from a bygone era.

The Transonic Truss-Braced Wing (TTBW) concept is a new iteration of an idea originally conceived in 2010, and Boeing researchers say it will now fly higher and faster than previous TTBW models.

As part of the Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research program, Boeing and NASA researchers have been working together for the last decade to design a more fuel efficient aircraft.

The speed at which it would reach its best fuel efficiency is Mach .80, or 613 mph — approaching the speed of sound (Mach 1). For comparison, a Boeing 787s cruising speed is 561 mph. Previous models had the jet flying at speeds between mach .70. to .75.

The aircraft’s ultra-thin wings are supported by a truss, bringing to mind bi-plane models from the early days of aviation or even more modern Cessna piston engined aircraft. The wings themselves are key to the concept’s fuel efficiency — Boeing said its modified the wing sweep of the aircraft making the truss carry lift more efficiently.

Boeing thinks the aircraft will be 8% more fuel efficient than traditional cantilevered wing jets, Aviation Week reports.

The wingspan itself measures in at 170 feet, while the smallest Dreamliner, the -8 model, has a wingspan of 197 feet. However, the wings should be able to fold (similar to the new 777x), just past where the the truss connects to the wing — therefore allowing it to use airport gates that designed for narrowbody aircraft, like the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.

It’s more likely we’ll see the return of supersonic aircraft before the TTBW flies, as it’s not expected to be enter service until 2035.

Featured image courtesy of Boeing. 

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