Aircraft Design

Emissionless air travel: how it might be achieved

July 1, 2022

The air transportation industry wants to achieve net-zero carbon emissions, but its strategy does not include emissionless aircraft. While no one can guarantee the feasibility of such aircraft, especially for long-range flight, NASA’s Dennis M. Bushnell says untapped aerodynamic innovations show tremendous potential toward that goal.

Seeking certification

By Aaron Karp

May 1, 2022

Joby Aviation is working with FAA to get its electric aircraft design certified in 2023 so that the company can begin ferrying passengers around major U.S. cities in 2024. Can the advanced air mobility company cross the finish line? Aaron Karp set out to find the answer.

Start your motors

By Cat Hofacker

January 1, 2022

Nicholas Borer has one New Year’s resolution: get NASA’s X-57 flying


By Jan Tegler

February 1, 2021

With their ability to manipulate their surroundings, morph, bend and change color, our planet’s creatures and plants outperform our sophisticated flying machines in some respects. Though long intrigued by this reality, aircraft engineers have yet to fully plumb biology for design inspiration. This is set to change, and Jan Tegler shows us how.

Quest for 90,000 feet

By Keith Button

November 1, 2019

Creating a piloted glider that can soar into the stratosphere on waves of air rising over the Andes required some creative safety innovations. Keith Button tells the story of Perlan 2.

For Vahana, a study in coping with complexity

By Keith Button

June 1, 2019

Urban air mobility concepts tend to be odd-looking airframes covered with propellers. The innovations promise maneuverability and energy efficiency, but they also bring aerodynamic complexities. How does one control such an aircraft? Keith Button spoke to the designers of Vahana, the Airbus urban air mobility demonstrator, to find out.

Making 3D-printed parts for Boeing 787s

August 31, 2018

Companies face an array of crucial technical decisions as they pioneer additive manufacturing techniques for parts on commercial aircraft that must carry hundreds of passengers safely to their destinations.

Containing a blade-out

By Keith Button

July 1, 2018

NASA has long been working with the FAA and the aviation industry to improve technologies for containing broken fan blades and preventing damage like that which killed a Southwest Airlines passenger. Keith Button looks at a research project that could help prevent future tragedies.

Fighting for “Future Vertical Lift”

By Jan Tegler

July 1, 2018

Rotorcraft advocates in the U.S. military have been laying the research groundwork to replace many of today’s helicopters with versions that would employ a revolutionary propulsion concept to-be-decided. Jan Tegler looks at the battle to elevate the Future Vertical Lift initiative into an acquisition program and speed up its schedule.

Symbiosis: Why CFD and wind tunnels need each other

By Joe Stumpe

May 31, 2018

As powerful as computational fluid dynamics and supercomputing are, they have not come close to relegating wind tunnels to history. In fact, in the U.S., a new tunnel is going up at MIT, and NASA is deliberating whether it should close a historic tunnel at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia four years from now as planned.

Grading the MQ-25

By Jan Tegler

April 30, 2018

Is the U.S. Navy's proposed refueling drone the best strategy for empowering pilots to penetrate enemy airspace?

Wringing out the risks

By Keith Button

March 2, 2018

Mathematicians are exploring an entirely new approach to making aircraft safer

Research reboot

By Keith Button

February 28, 2018

The U.S. Air Force Research Lab will spend much of 2018 taking a fresh look at its approach to science and technology

Meeting millennials

By Amanda Miller

February 1, 2018

Young aerospace professionals' career goals nurtured by love of science

Performance predictor

By Joe Stumpe

February 1, 2018

Researchers work on a computational tool to predict the performance of long, narrow wings

Magic material

By Keith Button

October 30, 2017

Mixing up an alloy that changes shape at specific temperatures

Soaring education

By Adam Hadhazy

May 31, 2017

Aerospace engineering educators employ some surprising teaching tools and methods

War on wiring

May 1, 2017

A look at the payoffs and challenges of removing wires from airlines


By Joe Stumpe

April 17, 2017

The U.S. Air Force is having a hard time letting go of the A-10

New blueprint, old dream

By Debra Werner

March 6, 2017

Designing a jet-fast plane that can stop on a dime in midair, hover and speed off

Stall recovery

March 6, 2017

Businesses are racing to meet an FAA mandate for training

Flying fast, flying quiet

By Keith Button

January 27, 2017

The curves and features of Lockheed Martin’s supersonic X-plane model have specific purposes in the quest to show the feasibility of Mach 1-plus passenger jets.