Get ready for the next generation of passenger airplanes.
NASA has taken the wraps off three concept designs for quiet, energy efficient aircraft that could potentially be ready to fly as soon as 2025. The designs come from Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and The Boeing Company. In the final months of 2010, each of these companies won a contract from NASA to research and test their concepts during 2011.
According to NASA,
[E]ach design has to fly up to 85 percent of the speed of sound; cover a range of approximately 7,000 miles; and carry between 50,000 and 100,000 pounds of payload, either passengers or cargo. For the rest of this year, each team will be exploring, testing, simulating, keeping and discarding innovations and technologies to make their design a winner.
Apparently, NASA is aiming to develop a line of super-planes that larger, faster, quieter, and that burn fuel slower and cleaner than their present counterparts.
How likely is it that we'll see these designs in the sky? Fast Company offers some insight: "Given how long it usually takes to craft an aircraft from scratch, and bearing in mind how many technical hitches the revolutionary Boeing 787 Dreamliner has suffered, these are the sorts of aircraft that these three firms are probably beginning to design for real right about now."
Check out the three concept planes (below), then have a look at our slideshow of more incredible planes from the future.