FAA Awards $100M to Develop Next Generation of Sustainable Aircraft Technology

Friday, September 10, 2021

WASHINGTON –The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has awarded more than $100 million for companies to help develop technologies that reduce fuel use, emissions and noise. The award is part of a series of steps President Biden is taking to coordinate leadership and innovation across the federal government, aircraft manufacturers, airlines, fuel producers and more to position American aviation to soar towards net zero emissions by 2050. This FAA announcement is part of those efforts.

“Across the country, communities have been devastated by the effects of climate change – but, if we act now, we can ensure that aviation plays a central role in the solution,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “These awards will help America lead the world in sustainable aviation."

The Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise (CLEEN) Program is a public-private partnership that began in 2010 and is a key part the FAA’s overall strategy to tackle the global challenge of climate change and lower the impact aviation has on communities. The program requires the companies receiving the contracts to match or exceed the FAA’s investment, bringing the total to at least $200 million over a five-year period.  The awards are the third phase of the FAA’s CLEEN program. 

FAA Investment
Under CLEEN Phase III, the FAA and six industry partners will focus on reducing aviation emissions and noise, including pursuing goals of reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by improving fuel efficiency by at least 20 percent below the relevant International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standard; NOx emissions by 70 percent relative to the most recent ICAO standard; particulate matter emissions below the ICAO standard; and noise by 25 dB cumulative relative to the FAA Stage 5 standard.

  • General Electric Aviation will develop an advanced engine propulsion system and advanced acoustic improvements to reduce noise and fuel consumption; electric and hybrid-electric systems to increase fuel efficiency; and advanced combustion and thermal management systems to reduce emissions and fuel consumption. The company also will support the evaluation of alternative jet fuels that could enable further aircraft performance improvements.
  • Honeywell Aerospace will develop a more efficient engine fan, combustion system, compressor, and turbine to reduce noise, emissions, and fuel consumption.
  • Pratt & Whitney will develop an ultra-quiet engine fan and an advanced combustion system to reduce noise, emissions, and fuel consumption.
  • Boeing will develop technologies to reduce noise from the wings, landing gear, and engine inlets. The company also will support the evaluation of alternative jet fuels that could enable further aircraft performance improvements, and help to develop new algorithms that enable aircraft to fly quieter, more fuel-efficient routes.
  • Delta TechOps, GKN Aerospace, MDS Coating, and America’s Phenix will work together to develop erosion-resistant fan blade coatings to reduce fuel consumption over the life of an engine.
  • Rohr Inc. will develop acoustic technology to reduce the noise from engine exhausts.

The FAA also is pursuing agreements with Rolls-Royce Corporation and Safran Nacelles. 

“Like our quest for safer skies, making flying sustainable requires us to constantly look for ways to improve,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. 

The CLEEN technologies developed so far are estimated to reduce CO2 emissions equivalent to removing 3 million cars from the road by 2050 and to save the aviation industry 36 billion gallons of fuel. The fuel savings is the equivalent of 11.4 million Boeing 737 flights between New York and Los Angeles. 

Continuing Success     
Examples of the accomplishments from the FAA’s $225 million invested in the CLEEN Phase I and Phase II include: 

  • Enhanced jet engine combustion systems have entered the aviation fleet, resulting in lower emissions.
  • Advanced aircraft wings made of stronger and lighter-weight materials are supporting innovative development of current and future aircraft.
  • Flight Management System algorithms have been created under CLEEN to enable aircraft to fly more fuel-efficient routes.
  • Several alternative jet fuels have been certified for safe use, due in part to testing and evaluation efforts conducted under CLEEN. 

The FAA anticipates that technologies developed under CLEEN Phase III could be introduced into commercial aircraft by 2031.

See the CLEEN Program website for more program information and detailed descriptions of CLEEN technologies and benefits.