This article first appeared in Aerospace Daily & Defense Report.
Aurora Flight Sciences is developing technology demonstration plans for the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) with the target of identifying ways to reduce air mobility fleet fuel usage 90 percent by 2030-2035.
The study is being conducted under the Revolutionary Configurations for Energy Efficiency (RCEE) program, which is being funded with Recovery Act stimulus money. In June, Boeing and Lockheed Martin were awarded RCEE contracts to study aft-body drag reduction.
Aurora says its study begins with an analysis of airlift and tanker aircraft "to determine the best fleet composition, aircraft performance attributes and technology requirements to meet the aggressive goals."
Technologies will be evaluated in aerodynamics, structures, propulsion, subsystems and operations. Downselected technologies will be modeled with increasing fidelity, with the goal of drawing up plans to guide AFRL research.
Aurora says it is evaluating multiple aircraft configurations and propulsion-airframe integration alternatives, including distributed multi-engine propulsion systems. The company is part of an MIT-led team studying similar configurations for NASA, for 2030-2035-timeframe commercial transports.