JetZero, an aerospace company based at Long Beach Airport, has secured a sizeable $235 million award from the Department of Defense’s Defense Innovation Unit. This funding injection is set to launch the development of their blended wing body (BWB) aircraft, which aims to improve on current aerospace offerings to the aviation industry by significantly reducing fuel consumption, emissions, and noise while offering an enhanced passenger experience.

The BWB configuration of JetZero’s proposed design isn’t new, as the existing OEMs have attempted to bring products such as these to fruition in the past, but JetZero reflects the latest attempt to deliver a product that boasts unmatched efficiency, projecting a 50 percent reduction in both fuel burn and emissions. With air traffic anticipated to increase by 3.6 percent annually, the need for sustainable aviation solutions is more pressing than ever. JetZero’s aircraft could hold the key to mitigating the industry’s carbon footprint, especially considering that the global airline fleet is predicted to almost double by 2041.

The initial BWB demonstrator aircraft will utilize existing engines and systems, however its design is poised for a seamless transition to hydrogen propulsion. This technology, with the potential for zero carbon emissions, promises a sustainable future for aviation. Collaborations with industry giants Northrop Grumman and Scaled Composites, along with the support of Pratt & Whitney GTF engines, underline JetZero’s commitment to pioneering these advancements.

Under the guidance of CEO Tom O’Leary, JetZero also aims to lead the aviation sector towards a more sustainable trajectory. O’Leary firmly believes that their BWB concept is a pivotal step toward achieving zero carbon emissions. “The BWB is the best first step on the path to zero carbon emissions,” he affirms. “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. No other proposed aircraft comes close in terms of efficiency.”

The DIU’s investment aligns with its mission to bridge the gap between emerging commercial technologies and military applications. JetZero’s milestone achievement marks a significant stride towards transforming aviation’s impact on the environment. The award enables the company to accelerate their progress, with plans to debut a full-scale demonstrator by the first quarter of 2027. This project is significant for aerial mobility because it reflects the amount of capital that governments and private investors are committing toward sustainable advancements of technology. Further, these investments align with aerial mobility goals, including more sustainable, efficient, and quieter flight.

Why it’s important: As air travel continues to return to 2019 levels and beyond, the urgency to develop eco-friendly aircraft intensifies. JetZero’s visionary approach to aircraft design could help to further the aviation industry’s trajectory toward more sustainable operations, ushering in a new era of cleaner, more sustainable flight.

Posted by Naish Gaubatz