Aurora Flight Sciences has received a contract from Nasa to carry out a comprehensive evaluation of a single-aisle turboelectric aircraft with an aft boundary layer propulsion (STARC-ABL) concept.

As part of the contract, Aurora will help Nasa to validate the system level performance of the STARC-ABL aircraft.

Nasa’s STARC-ABL aircraft is a subsonic commercial aircraft concept with conventional underwing gas-turbine engines and a ducted, boundary layer ingesting (BLI) tail-cone propulsor powered by a turboelectric propulsion system.

The concept is designed to offer significant fuel-efficiency benefits.

Aurora is currently engaged in the development of innovative electric aircraft designs and high-performance aircraft for commercial applications.

“The concept is designed to offer significant fuel-efficiency benefits.”

The company is also involved in the development of the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) XV-24A LightningStrike aircraft, which is a 12,000lb hybrid-electric vehicle with 3MW of electric power driving 24 electric fans.

Aurora had also won a contract from Nasa to continue the development of its subsonic D8 X-Plane (XD8), which will be able to cater to the 150-180 seat market.

The 12-month contract from Nasa is also expected to help Aurora to further develop the aerodynamics of the XD8 by designing a transonic wind tunnel test.

Aurora will also be able to advance develop the readiness of XD8’s Boundary Layer Ingesting (BLI) propulsion system through a transonic BLI fan test, among others.

Development of the XD8 is being carried out as part the US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) CLEEN II programme, the Nasa New Aviation Horizons programme, and Aurora internal funding.