Could Boeing’s Transonic Truss-Braced Wing Airliner be the Sky Revolution we’ve been Waiting for? - Aviation for Aviators
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Could Boeing’s Transonic Truss-Braced Wing Airliner be the Sky Revolution we’ve been Waiting for?



NASA/The Boeing Company

Boeing’s Transonic Truss-Braced Wing (TTBW) airliner is a radical rethinking of aircraft design that could redefine standards of efficiency and sustainability. The concept, first developed in 2010, is now being built as a full-scale demonstrator with ambitious goals for fuel efficiency. If the project proceeds as planned, Boeing expects that planes of this design could be operational between 2030 and 2035.

The Transonic Truss-Braced Wing (TTBW) Unveiling

Transonic Truss-Braced Wing
Photo by NASA

In January 2019, Boeing revealed its innovative concept – the Transonic Truss-Braced Wing (TTBW) airliner. A result of a collaborative project with NASA that began in 2010, this concept aircraft incorporates a lightweight, ultra-thin, and highly aerodynamic wing design, supported by diagonal trusses. The design aims to provide optimal fuel efficiency. The TTBW is intended to fly up to Mach 0.80, similar to current jetliners’ speed but faster than any preceding truss-braced wing concept.

With a wingspan of 170 feet (51m), the TTBW concept plane is smaller than the A350 and the 787 Dreamliner, but still larger than the 737 MAX 8, which it surpasses by 53 ft (16m). A crucial factor in the TTBW design is its modified wing sweep and ultra-thin design, which minimize the induced cruise drag of the high aspect ratio wing. Wind tunnel tests have so far shown a remarkable 9-10% reduction in fuel burn for the wings alone. NASA and Boeing hope that when combined with other emerging technologies, the plane could achieve a 30% reduction in fuel burn compared to current next-generation narrowbody jets, like the A320neo or 737 MAX.

“Together with expected advancements in propulsion systems, materials, and systems architecture, a single-aisle airplane with a TTBW configuration could reduce fuel consumption and emissions by up to 30% relative to today’s most efficient single-aisle airplanes, depending on the mission,” stated Boeing.

Transonic Truss-Braced Wing

To tackle the logistical issues associated with large wingspans, Boeing plans to use folding wingtips, a feature showcased on the 777X. The TTBW design proposes a significant adaptation where the wings would fold almost in half, with the truss providing support. This design could help circumvent difficulties related to fitting the aircraft into airport gates or hangars.

A New Era of Sustainable Aviation

Despite the fact that many concept aircraft proposed by Boeing and Airbus never materialize, researchers have confidence in the TTBW’s potential for mainstream use. Since 2010, Boeing has been developing the TTBW design through its partnership with NASA in the Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research (SUGAR) program. They envision aircraft based on this design being operational by 2030-2035.

The current TTBW design, known as the X-66A, recently received its ‘X’ designation from the US Air Force. The ‘X’ refers to experimental aircraft designs that explore new technologies. The X-66A is the first X-plane designed specifically to usher in “a new era where aircraft are greener, cleaner, and quieter.”

The TTBW design does come with some challenges, such as fuel storage, due to the wings being much thinner than conventional airliners. The project is also banking on the integration of advanced propulsion systems, so its viability also depends on technological advancements in other areas.


Moving Forward with a Full-Scale Demonstrator

Transonic Truss-Braced Wing

Boeing announced a full-scale demonstrator in January, which will use a shortened MD-90 airframe. The demonstrator is scheduled to undergo a year of flight testing at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center in 2028. Boeing has proposed two potential designs for TTBW narrowbodies – the VS-1 and VS-2 – that would accommodate between 130–160 and 180–210 passengers, respectively.

Pratt & Whitney will power the demonstrator with its PW1100G geared turbofan. With single-aisle aircraft accounting for nearly half of worldwide aviation emissions due to their extensive use, NASA aims to target this market segment for significant emission reductions.

$1 Billion in Funding

NASA has pledged to invest $425 million into the project over the next seven years, with Boeing and partners committing $725 million during the same period.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson stated, “Our goal is that NASA’s partnership with Boeing to produce and test a full-scale demonstrator will lead to future commercial airliners that are more fuel efficient, with benefits to the environment, the commercial aviation industry, and passengers worldwide. If we are successful, we may see these technologies in planes that the public uses in the 2030s.”


As Boeing seeks a successor to the 737 family by the early 2030s, the TTBW concept could play a crucial role in shaping its future narrowbody designs. While this groundbreaking redesign of conventional aircraft will undoubtedly face certification challenges, the significant funding and progress made on the TTBW suggest that we may be hearing more about this concept in the years to come.

What potential impacts do you foresee the Boeing Transonic Truss-Braced Wing (TTBW) airliner having on the future of commercial aviation, particularly with regards to sustainability and fuel efficiency? Let us know in the comments below.

Youssef is the president and founder of Aviation for Aviators; in addition to his role as Chief-in-Editor of the platform's website, Youssef is currently pursuing an engineering degree at Nile University in Egypt. With his unique blend of passion, expertise, and entrepreneurial spirit, Youssef is passionate about combining these traits with aviation to provide a unique resource for aviation enthusiasts and professionals alike.


Boeing’s Outlook: The Future of Commercial Aviation Requires 42,600 New Airplanes Over the Next 20 Years



Future of Commercial Aviation
Photo by JohNNN ZHANG

The aviation industry is on the precipice of significant evolution, forecasting a future shaped by innovation, efficiency, and sustainability. This article, deriving insights from the 2023 Commercial Market Outlook by Boeing, ventures into the future of commercial aviation, providing a glimpse into global air traffic and airplane demand trends.

Airline and Network Trends: Steering the Future of Commercial Aviation

The Low-Cost Carrier (LCC) sector is projected to expand, offering more affordable travel options to a broader range of passengers. This growth is not just about increasing the number of flights or destinations. It’s about making air travel more accessible, enabling more people to explore the world, visit loved ones, or expand their businesses.

This growth in the LCC sector is accompanied by an increase in network flexibility. Airlines are becoming more adaptable, ready to change routes, schedules, and services based on changing market conditions and passenger demands. This adaptability is crucial in an industry where change is the only constant.


In addition to expanding and adapting their networks, airlines are also focusing on cabin optimization. They are investing in new technologies and designs to enhance the passenger experience and maximize efficiency. From more comfortable seats to better in-flight entertainment, airlines are recognizing that the journey itself is an essential part of the travel experience.

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Commitment to Sustainability: The Drive Towards Net-Zero Emissions in the Future of Commercial Aviation

Future of Commercial Aviation
Photo by Boeing

In addition to these trends, airlines are also striving towards achieving net-zero emissions. This commitment towards sustainability is expected to drive significant changes in the industry. It’s not just about reducing the carbon footprint of each flight, but rethinking every aspect of operations to become more sustainable.

From the types of aircraft used to operational practices, every decision is being scrutinized through the lens of sustainability. Airlines are exploring more fuel-efficient aircraft, alternative fuels, and ways to reduce waste on board. They are also investing in carbon offset programs and other initiatives to balance their environmental impact.

This commitment to sustainability is not just good for the planet. It’s also good for business. More and more passengers are choosing airlines that share their values, including a commitment to protect the environment. Airlines that prioritize sustainability can strengthen their brand, attract new customers, and build stronger relationships with existing customers.


Fleet Trends: The Drive Towards Simplification in the Future of Commercial Aviation

Airlines are simplifying their fleets, with 75 airlines having phased out at least one airplane family from their active fleet from 2019 to 2023. This trend towards simplification is driven by a desire to improve operations and reduce costs. By operating fewer types of aircraft, airlines can streamline maintenance, training, and operations.

Future of Commercial Aviation
Photo by Boeing

But simplification doesn’t mean sacrificing quality or performance. On the contrary, airlines are investing in newer, more efficient aircraft that offer better performance, more comfort, and lower operating costs. These new aircraft are also more environmentally friendly, helping airlines to reduce their carbon footprint and move towards their sustainability goals.

This trend towards fleet simplification is also driven by the changing demands of passengers. Today’s passengers expect a modern, comfortable, and reliable flight experience. Airlines that can deliver this experience – while also offering competitive fares – are more likely to attract and retain customers.

Demand and Recovery: Overcoming Challenges

The recovery of the aviation industry is not constrained by demand. Instead, it is influenced by factors such as policy harmonization, labor availability, and supply chain stability. Despite these challenges, the industry is set to return to pre-pandemic levels over the next 12-18 months.


Policy harmonization across different regions and countries will be crucial in facilitating a smooth recovery. Airlines operatein a global market, and inconsistent policies can create unnecessary barriers and inefficiencies. By working together, governments and industry bodies can create a policy environment that supports recovery and growth.

Labor availability, particularly in terms of skilled pilots and crew, will also be a key factor in the recovery. The aviation industry is a people industry, and having the right people in the right roles is crucial. Airlines, training providers, and governments will need to work together to ensure that the industry has the skilled workforce it needs to recover and grow.

Finally, the stability of the supply chain, which has been disrupted due to the pandemic, will play a significant role in the recovery process. From aircraft manufacturers to catering companies, airlines depend on a complex network of suppliers. Ensuring the stability and resilience of this supply chain will be a key challenge in the months and years ahead.


The Rise of Airfares: Making Air Travel More Accessible

While airfares are rising, they are doing so at a slower pace than other leisure and travel categories. This trend is making air travel more accessible to a broader range of passengers, contributing to the growth of the aviation industry.

The rise in airfares is also reflective of the changing economic landscape. As economies recover from the pandemic, prices are increasing in many sectors. However, the slower rise in airfares shows that airlines are committed to keeping air travel affordable.

Despite the increase, airfares have risen less than other categories such as food, lodging, sports, and movies. This suggests that while the cost of air travel is increasing, it is still considered a viable option for many individuals and families. As airlines continue to innovate and find ways to reduce costs, air travel is likely to become even more accessible in the future.


READ ALSO: Boeing Dreamlifter: A Masterpiece of Ingenuity and Function

The Future Fleet: Doubling in Size

Over the next 20 years, the global fleet is expected to double in size to more than 48,500 jets. This growth will be driven by the need for more fuel-efficient jets, with airlines replacing approximately half of the global fleet.

The future fleet will consist of approximately 24,500 active aircraft from the 2022 fleet, around 21,000 replacement aircraft, and about 21,000 additional aircraft for growth. This projection also takes into account around 2,500 excess parked aircraft.


This growth in the global fleet reflects the growing demand for air travel. As economies grow and more people join the middle class, more people will want – and be able to afford – to travel by air. Airlines will need to expand their fleets to meet this growing demand.

Conclusion: A Promising Future for Commercial Aviation

Future of Commercial Aviation
Photo: Boeing

The next 20 years will see a significant transformation in the aviation industry. With a focus on efficiency, sustainability, and passenger experience, the future of commercial aviation looks promising. The industry is poised for growth, driven by innovation, changing passenger demands, and a commitment to sustainability.

But this transformation won’t be easy. Airlines will need to navigate a complex landscape of challenges and opportunities. They will need to adapt to changing market conditions, invest in new technologies, and find ways to meet their sustainability goals. Those that can do this successfully will be well-positioned to thrive in the future of aviation.

What are your thoughts on these trends and their impact on the future of aviation? How do you see the industry evolving over the next two decades? Share your insights in the comments section below.

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Boeing 777 and CAD: The First Aircraft to Harness the Power of Computer-Aided Design



flight dawn sunset flying
Josh Withers

Imagine a world on the brink of technological change. It’s the 80s, and aviation needs are escalating. This is when the Boeing 777 made its debut, not just as another aircraft, but as a symbol of a new era in aircraft design. This groundbreaking jet bridged the gap between Boeing’s twin-engine 767s and the iconic four-engine 747s. More than just a machine, it brought a revolution in the use of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) in aviation, reshaping the industry’s approach to aircraft creation. So, let’s embark on this journey to uncover the birth of the Boeing 777, its innovative features, the pioneering application of CAD, and its enduring influence on aviation.

Boeing 777: The Birth of an Innovator

Boeing 777 and CAD
Via Assembly Magazine

Boeing took the call of the airlines to heart and adapted to fresh FAA regulations. As a result, the Boeing 777 was born. The aircraft offered a cabin cross-section akin to a 747, adjustable interiors, a glass cockpit, fly-by-wire controls, and room for up to 325 passengers. What’s more, it improved seat-mile costs by 10% compared to standard airlines. The ambition was to construct the largest twin-engine jet in aviation history.

The first of the Boeing 777 family, the 777-200, flew commercially in May 1995. Shortly after, Boeing rolled out an extended version, the 777-200ER, by 1997. This new version could cover a remarkable distance of 7,065 NM (13,080 km).

CAD: A Game Changer in Boeing 777 Design

Boeing 777 and CAD
Via Business Journal

The dawn of the 90s brought the widespread use of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) in numerous applications. CAD revolutionized complex engineering designs and calculations, making them more accurate and efficient. CAD became a cost-saving asset for Boeing, blending specialties like design and engineering and creating a new standard for efficiency and cost benefits.

Designing a widebody airliner to hold nearly 350 passengers using CAD was a daunting task at that time. Although Boeing had been using CAD in its processes, it hadn’t designed an aircraft from scratch using computers. The Boeing 777 became the first ever to be designed entirely with CAD software.


The CATIA software, developed by Dassault Systems of France and marketed by IBM in the United States, played a vital role in the creation of the 777. This pioneering software enabled engineers to simulate the aircraft’s geometry at different design stages, saving time and money by eliminating the need for physical prototypes.

Boeing 777 and CAD: Aviation Steps into the Digital Age

Boeing 777 and CAD
Via Business Traveller

CAD’s precision outshone that of a human engineering team. Based on the results from the software, Boeing decided to forego any future planned physical mock-ups for the 777. Instead, they digitally assembled major components for interface testing, demonstrating a commitment to innovation. Boeing proudly states, “The 777 integrates onboard systems, advanced materials, aerodynamics, and the world’s most powerful jet engines to produce the most reliable twin-aisle airplane flying—a testament to the power of digital design.”

READ ALSO: The Differences Between the Boeing 777 Variants

Over the years, the 777 program underwent various modifications and upgrades. Yet, the aircraft remains in service. The 777 has now surpassed the legendary Boeing 747 as Boeing’s most produced widebody jet.



The Boeing 777 epitomizes the transformative power of digital design in the aviation industry, marking a major shift in how we create aircraft. Will CAD continue to be the driving force in future aircraft design? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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The Incredible Boeing 747-400: Which Airlines Still Operate Them Today?



Akbarali Mastan via

With a production run that spanned over three decades, the Boeing 747-400 has been a reliable aircraft with 694 planes built. As the 35th anniversary of the 747-400’s inaugural flight approaches, it’s essential to review which airlines are still operating these planes with the most significant number of flight cycles.

Modernizing the 747-400

Image by Severin Hackenberger via

As the sales of the Boeing 747 began to decrease, Boeing aimed to enhance the aircraft’s fuel efficiency, interior design, and electronics. To ensure that the updated model would meet the requirements of their customers, Boeing collaborated with major airlines such as British Airways, Cathay Pacific, KLM, Lufthansa, Northwest, Qantas, and Singapore Airlines. Their suggestions included a two-pilot system and a greater range with improved fuel efficiency.

Image via:

Northwest Airlines: The Launch Customer

Northwest Airlines was the launch customer for the upgraded Boeing 747-400, receiving their first aircraft in February 1989. Even before the first 747-400 rolled out of the factory, Boeing had already received 100 orders for the updated model.

The Most Active 747-400s

  • Royal Air Maroc received the Boeing 747-400 with the registration CN-RGA in 1993, which has an impressive 14,077 flight cycles to date.
  • Air China‘s 747-400 registered as B-2447 was delivered new in 1995 and has accumulated 13,710 flight cycles.
  • Lufthansa received D-ABVU in 1998, which currently has 13,419 flight cycles and is deployed on the Frankfurt to Delhi route.
  • Delivered new to Lufthansa in 1998, the Boeing 747-400 registered as D-ABVM has 13,408 flight cycles.
  • Lufthansa’s 23-year-old Boeing 747-400, registered as D-ABVW, was delivered in 1999 and has 13,003 flight cycles. It currently operates on the Frankfurt to Seoul route.
  • The plane registered as D-ABVX, delivered new to Lufthansa in 1999, has 12,546 flight cycles.
  • D-ABVY, which currently operates on the Frankfurt to Bengaluru route, was delivered new to Lufthansa in 2000 and has 12,130 flight cycles.
  • Delivered new to Lufthansa in 2001, D-ABVZ has 12,066 flight cycles.
  • Lufthansa took delivery of D-ABTK in 2001, which currently has 11,401 flight cycles.
  • The Boeing 747-400 registered as D-ABTL was delivered new to Lufthansa in 2002 and has 11,351 flight cycles.
  • Air Atlanta Europe‘s 9H-AZA is currently wet-leased to Saudia and has 8,626 flight cycles.
  • 9H-AZC, which operates under a wet lease agreement with Air Atlanta Europe, was first delivered to Malaysian Airline System (MAS) in 2002 and has 7,035 flight cycles.
Image via: Lufthansa

Active 747s without flight data

N176UA was delivered to United Airlines in 1990 but has not been recorded as having any flight cycles since being sold to Blue Airways and later to Iran’s Mahan Air. Currently, it operates flights between Tehran and Moscow. Another plane originally delivered to Korean Air in 1998, was subsequently sold to MaxAir in Nigeria and now operates as 5N-HMM on the Kano to Jeddah route.

Image by R.Bexten

As the 747-400 continues to fly the skies, these active planes with high flight cycles are a testament to the durability and longevity of this iconic aircraft.

Also, you might be interested in reading: 747-300 Returns to the Skies


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