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JetZero Gets $235 Million US Air Force Award

JetZero Propels Eco-Friendly Aviation with a Whopping $235 Million Boost from the US Air Force

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In a monumental stride towards greener skies, the US Air Force is championing JetZero’s innovative aircraft design, a revolutionary leap that promises to diminish fuel consumption, slash emissions and noise, and significantly enhance the airline passenger experience. The company is poised to construct a full-scale demonstrator, a critical step in validating the performance of the Blended Wing Body (BWB) design.

JetZero blended wing aircraft design rendering.

The Competitive Advantage of Blended Wing Body Design 

With air traffic predicted to surge at an annual rate of 3.6 percent, the quest to decarbonize the aviation industry presents an increasingly formidable challenge. Cirium, a prominent aviation analytics firm, projects nearly double the global airline fleet by 2041—a staggering 47,700 aircraft. Amid this escalating demand, JetZero’s aircraft could emerge as a vital tool in the industry’s efforts to curb its carbon footprint.

From Fossil Fuels to SAF to Hydrogen: An Adaptable, Convertible Aircraft 

In a significant stride towards aviation sustainability, JetZero’s blended wing body (BWB) demonstrator, the pioneer of an envisaged fleet of similar aircraft, is poised to revolutionize the industry. Utilizing contemporary engines and systems, this groundbreaking design could potentially be converted into a hydrogen propulsion system in the future, thus achieving zero carbon emissions. This innovative design has been the subject of extensive research by NASA and other scientific bodies for over three decades.

“The BWB is the best first step on the path to zero carbon emissions. It offers 50% lower fuel burn using today’s engines and the airframe efficiency needed to support a transition to zero carbon emissions propulsion in the future,” said JetZero CEO Tom O’Leary, “No other proposed aircraft comes close in terms of efficiency.”

JetZero is leading efforts to expand BWB technology and demonstrate its capabilities for the future of aviation and the climate for both military and commercial markets.

US Air Force Backing Powers JetZero Demonstrator

JetZero’s commendable efforts have not gone unnoticed. The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) of the Department of Defense has granted JetZero an award worth $235 million, to be disbursed over a four-year period. This generous funding will culminate in the inaugural flight of the full-scale demonstrator by the first quarter of 2027. Since its inception in 2015, the DIU has been instrumental in expediting the U.S. military’s adoption of emergent commercial technologies.

Strong Partnerships Support Aircraft Innovation

JetZero is poised to make significant strides in aviation sustainability thanks to a strategic collaboration with Northrop Grumman and Scaled Composites. These industry giants lend considerable expertise in advanced aircraft design, manufacturing, and integration of mission systems to develop and test JetZero’s full-scale demonstrator. JetZero has chosen the Pratt & Whitney GTF™ engines to power this demonstrator. Pratt & Whitney’s specialized division, GATORWORKS, is stepping up to the plate by providing much-needed support to JetZero in designing and integrating the propulsion system within the demonstrator.

Taking a Giant Leap in Aviation Sustainability: The Story of JetZero’s Ultra-Efficient Blended Wing Body Aircraft

JetZero unveiled its Blended Wing Body Aircraft this past April, making waves in the aerospace engineering world. This versatile new airliner will not only be capable of carrying passengers but also function as a freighter or refueling tanker. 

As the inaugural member of a new family of aircraft, the middle market aircraft (MMA) promises to be a game-changer, weighing in at roughly half that of its predecessors, like the Boeing 767, and demanding only half the power. It will be propelled by the kind of state-of-the-art high-bypass engines currently propelling smaller mono-aisle jets. This all-composite aircraft leverages well-established aerodynamic principles, and its mostly conventional system design paves the way for its introduction in the 2030s. 

JetZero Blended Wing Body Aircraft rendering.

A Strong Engineering Focus Across the JetZero Organization

Established in 2021, JetZero’s primary mission is to spearhead the development of the next wave of sustainable jets, fast-tracking the journey to zero emissions. The engineering masterminds behind the blended wing body concept form the backbone of the JetZero team, guided by JetZero’s founder and Chief Technology Officer, Mark Page.

During his tenure as a McDonnell Douglas program manager in the 1990s, Page helmed a three-year NASA initiative that explored and defined the future properties of BWB. Since then, NASA has invested over $1 billion in the research and development of blended wing technology. 

Page’s pursuit of this research continued at subsequent companies, including JetZero’s predecessor, DZYNE Technologies, from 2012 to 2021. In 2021, NASA recognized JetZero’s commitment to sustainable aviation, awarding them a contract to study sustainable aircraft configurations, design a subscale model, and draft a roadmap for producing and flying a full-scale Sustainable Flight Demonstrator (SFD). 

JetZero has now been granted the $235 million USAF BWB demonstration program, which includes the development of a full-scale demonstrator aircraft. Concurrently, the company is contacting private funding sources and potential program partners. 

Collaboration with Northrop Grumman 

In the race for the Air Force’s BWB competition, JetZero teamed up with Northrop Grumman for the proposed development and production of a full-scale demonstrator. Northrop Grumman, a global leader in advanced aircraft design and manufacturing, adds significant experience in aircraft prototype development and militarized derivative weapon systems integration and testing. 

Teaming up with Northrop Grumman mitigates risk in the development and eventual commercial/military deployment of JetZero’s BWB aircraft. The company also brings unique capabilities in advanced development through its subsidiary, Scaled Composites, which will substantially contribute to the BWB demonstrator. 

“Northrop Grumman’s prowess in advanced aircraft manufacturing and weapon systems integration dovetails perfectly with JetZero’s pioneering approach to developing and demonstrating the value of blended wing body aircraft for commercial and military use,” said Tom Jones, Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems president. “Leveraging our leadership in digital engineering and prototype development, we’re thrilled to offer new capabilities that push the boundaries for our customers.” 

Behind JetZero’s BWB Design 

JetZero BWB aircraft rendering.

JetZero’s blended wing body design significantly reduces weight and drag by eliminating a conventional airliner’s tail section. Semi-buried engine nacelles further reduce drag, and their position above the aircraft dramatically reduces its noise signature. 

The blended wing’s inherent stability generates lift across the aircraft’s entire span. With its reduced surface area and weight, the aircraft requires less power — a virtuous cycle leading to lower fuel consumption, decreased operating costs, and reduced emissions, aligning with the industry’s commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. 

Just the Facts

  • Backed by over 30 years of development and the robust support of NASA and the US Air Force 
  • 100 percent SAF capability tackles the urgent need to curb airline emissions head-on 
  • Future-proof design adaptable for zero-emission fuels such as liquid hydrogen 
  • The revolutionary blended wing body aircraft is set to redefine climate impact with an efficiency that’s simply unmatched.
  • This dual-purpose aircraft can serve both commercial and military needs.
  • The BWB can comfortably carry over 200 passengers, perfectly fitting the middle-market airline segment.

About JetZero 

JetZero calls the Long Beach Airport home based in the vibrant Los Angeles basin hub. Established in 2021, this trailblazing company has its sights set solely on creating the future of sustainable aviation. Their ambitious pursuit? Accelerating the journey towards zero-emission jets.

At the heart of JetZero’s innovative team, you’ll find engineers who were instrumental in birthing the blended wing body concept. The team is guided by the visionary leadership of JetZero’s founder and CTO, Mark Page.

Page, a seasoned engineer with McDonnell Douglas in the 1990s, spearheaded a three-year NASA project dedicated to exploring and crafting the future attributes of BWB. Since those pioneering days, NASA has invested over $1 billion into the research and development of blended wing technology, a significant portion of which was carried out under the keen eye of Page and his esteemed colleagues.

Learn more at www.jetzero.aero

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