NASA taps Aurora for electric airliner design

NASA taps Aurora for electric airliner design

Aircraft has conventional underwing gas-turbine engines and a tailcone propulsor driven by a turboelectric system.

October 31, 2017
Edited by Eric Brothers
Electrical/Electronic Industry/Regulations Jet/Turbine Engines

Concept of single-aisle turboelectric aircraft with aft boundary layer propulsion (STARC-ABL)

Aurora Flight Sciences, headquartered in Manassas, Virginia, has been awarded a contract from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (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.

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.

Aurora is currently leading the development of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) XV-24A LightningStrike, a 12,000 lb hybrid-electric aircraft with 3MW 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 to180 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.