Boeing's radical 'transonic' wing design could mean higher, faster airplanes

Boeing says its radical new
Boeing says its radical new "transonic" wing design will help airplanes fly faster and higher.

Boeing has developed the wing in partnership with NASA over the course of nearly a decade.

Posted: Jan 9, 2019 10:20 AM
Updated: Jan 9, 2019 10:29 AM

(CNN) -- The future looks interesting for air passengers, with a raft of new designs in the pipeline promising faster planes capable of taking people on longer flights in greater comfort.

Boeing's latest innovation in the travel field is an extremely thin, folding wing that it says will let planes fly at just below the speed of sound at higher altitudes than before, while offering unprecedented aerodynamic efficiency, according to a news release from the company.

The Transonic Truss-Braced Wing boasts an extended wingspan of 170 feet, made possible by a truss that supports its weight.

During development, which is still at conceptual phase, engineers have also been able to obtain an increased top speed from a planned Mach 0.70-0.75 to Mach 0.80, only slightly below the speed of sound, or Mach 1.

This was made possible by modifying the wing sweep and optimizing the supporting structure, according to the release, changes which allow the truss to carry lift more efficiently.

Boeing has developed the wing in partnership with NASA over the course of nearly a decade.

Their work is part of the Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research program, which encourages the development of less noisy, more efficient aircraft that also improve on performance.

In December Boeing unveiled its newest line of business jets, which the company says will allow VIP travelers to fly nonstop between "any two cities on Earth."

The BBJ 777X planes will have a range of 11,645 nautical miles (21,570 km), enabling them to offer the longest commercial flight in the world.

Depending on which routes the jets are used on, the new models mean Boeing could wrestle the crown for farthest nonstop travel away from Airbus.

Travelers around the globe are also one step closer to seeing a plane with its wings folded up being taxied to their gate.

Slated to be one of the next darlings of commercial aviation, the Boeing 777X hit a production milestone late last year when its major fuselage sections -- the airplane's nose, mid and aft sections -- were brought together. Engines have also now been added.

It has hinged wingtips measuring 12 feet, with locking pins to prevent them from folding during flight, and the longest aircraft body and widest wingspan ever produced by Boeing, at 252 feet and 235 feet, 5 inches, respectively.

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