NASA taps Aurora for electric airliner design

AMNovember17News - Aurora
AMNovember17News - Aurora

Aurora Flight Sciences has been awarded a contract from NASA to perform a comprehensive evaluation of the Single-aisle Turboelectric Aircraft with Aft Boundary Layer propulsion (STARC-ABL) aircraft concept.

Designed to yield substantial fuel efficiency benefits, the NASA STARC-ABL aircraft is a subsonic commercial aircraft concept with conventional underwing gas-turbine engines and a ducted, Boundary Layer Ingesting (BLI) tailcone propulsor driven by a turboelectric propulsion system.

Aurora is a leader in both innovative electric aircraft designs and in high-performance aircraft for commercial applications. The company is currently leading the development of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) XV-24A LightningStrike, a 12,000lb hybrid-electric aircraft with 3 MW of electric power driving 24 electric fans. Aurora recently flew a fully autonomous, battery-powered subscale version of the XV-24A, which also serves as the basis for Aurora’s work on urban mobility platforms. In April 2017 Aurora was selected as one of Uber’s industrial partners for the Uber Elevate program.

Aurora is also developing the D8, a commercial airliner design for the 150-180 seat market. Using composite structures, boundary layer ingestion, and high levels of autonomy, the D8 can provide up to 50% reductions in fleet-wide fuel burn over designs currently in use. The D8 is being developed through the FAA CLEEN II program, the NASA New Aviation Horizons program, and Aurora internal funding.

The award will leverage Aurora’s lessons-learned across this diverse electric aircraft portfolio to assist NASA in validating the system level performance of the STARC-ABL aircraft.

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