Efficient aircraft designs are increasingly desired in order to support the continued growth of the air transportation industry. Continued expansion of this vital mode of transportation is threatened due to concerns over ever-increasing emissions, noise, and the demand for fuel. Current airport runway, ramp, and terminal facilities are increasingly constrained by encroaching growth and neighborhood environmental issues. The challenges associated with ever-increasing demand for air travel will require the development of aircraft that can fly efficiently over wide speed ranges, minimize their environmental impacts, offer the potential for sizing and growth relative to market demand, and make efficient use of constrained airport and airspace resources.

The innovation is a new aircraft configuration that utilizes a strut/truss-braced oblique variable-sweep wing mounted on a constant cross-section geometry fuselage. The combination of the strut/truss-bracing with the oblique wing greatly reduces the structural penalties previously associated with unbraced oblique wing configurations while maintaining the oblique wing’s improved aerodynamic performance. The use of strut/truss bracing helps to reduce the weight penalty associated with single wing pivots. The synergistic combination of these design elements provides the aircraft with a wide and efficient cruise speed range when the wing is at intermediate sweep positions, and superior low-speed performance (improved climb efficiency) when the wing is unswept. This wide speed envelope provides future air traffic systems with additional flexibility when scheduling efficient arrivals and departures, and the improved climb performance reduces the noise footprint of the aircraft as it departs the airport neighborhood. When taxiing, on the ramp, or at the gate, the oblique wing can be pivoted to align with the fuselage, greatly reducing the aircraft’s physical footprint and allowing multiple aircraft to operate in closer proximity than would be possible with other large wingspan aircraft.

This aircraft configuration allows for significant improvements in structural, aerodynamic, and energy efficiency. The innovation promotes improved takeoff and landing performance, reduced airport noise, flexibility in cruise speed operations, and better use of increasingly crowded airport ground facilities and en route airspace to improve the throughput of both domestic and international airspace. The strut/truss-braced oblique-wing design with conventional fuselage could be used successfully in a range of future civil and military aircraft.

This work was done by John Melton and Michael Dudley of Ames Research Center. NASA invites companies to inquire about licensing possibilities for this technology for commercial applications. Contact the Ames Technology Partnerships Office at 1-855-627-2249 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Refer to ARC-16752-1.