The National Aeronautics and Space Administration are working on a new type of plane, which "dramatically improves efficiency" by reducing fuel consumption.
Jim Heidmann, manager of NASA's Advanced Air Transport Technology Project (AATT), said: "I feel we are at a tipping point in commercial aviation. We are exploring and developing game-changing technologies and concepts for aircraft and propulsion systems that can dramatically improve efficiency and reduce environmental impact and accelerate the introduction of new aircraft.
"We believe global competition and international certification standards will drive reduced fuel consumption and more efficient aircraft and propulsion concepts that may use cleaner forms of energy. We also see the potential emergence of alternative modes of commercial transport, such as on-demand and flight service between rarely-traveled locations, both of which would represent new markets and potential beneficiaries of revolutionary propulsion technologies."
NASA have awarded 12-month contracts to Boeing, teamed with Georgia Tech, and Liberty Works, with ES Aero, to develop single-aisle, 150-seat aircraft designs, which use "electric-enhanced propulsion and vehicle configuration concepts".
Amy Jankovsky, NASA's AATT subproject manager, added: "During the 12-month cycle, we'll work with the teams to take a deep dive into their hybrid and turboelectric aircraft concepts. These concepts will provide in-depth, detailed analyses of the propulsion and electrical systems, and we will recommend technology development paths for their concepts.
"As we move forward, we'd like to further develop the powertrains for these and any other concepts that may prove viable by building and testing them at NEAT and other NASA facilities. We'll identify key performance parameters for components such as motors, generators and power electronics, and any wind tunnel, altitude and other ground tests and flight demonstrations that are appropriate."