Triumph of Technology:
NASA Contributions to the Boeing 777
Basic and applied research performed at NASA's four research
centers contributed significantly to technology applications for
Boeing 777's design concepts. According to Boeing Co. estimates,
the 777 fleet has captured three-quarters of the market for
airplanes in its class, further strengthening this country's
positive balance of trade in aeronautics.
The precedent-setting 777 was designed for medium- to long-range
passenger flights and is the largest twin-engine jet to be
manufactured. Its first passenger-carrying flights were conducted
by United Airlines in May of 1995.
The B-777 airframe incorporates durable lightweight composite
including graphite-epoxy floor beams, flaps and tail
NASA Langley-developed analytical technologies and facilities
used by Boeing in its product development work included:
- fundamental mathematical procedures for computer-generated
airflow images which enabled advanced computer-based aerodynamic
- wind tunnel testing for flutter and vibrational characteristics
of wing structure (for which Boeing directly reimbursed NASA).
- knowledge of how to reduce engine and other noise for
passengers and terminal area residents.
- Radial tires like those used on the 777 recently underwent
strength and durability testing at Langley's Aircraft Landing
Wind tunnel tests confirming the structural integrity of 777
were conducted in the NASA Langley Transonic Dynamics
NASA Langley can claim credit for advances that led to the
- modern glass cockpit, a system that uses computer technology to
integrate information and display it on monitors in easy-to-use
- digital data system, an easily reconfigurable computer network
that allows an aircraft's computers to communicate with each
- "fly-by-wire" system for control of wing and tail surfaces,
replacing bulkier and heavier hydraulic control systems
- increased use of lightweight aerospace composite structures for
increased fuel efficiency and range
The 777's aerodynamically-efficient wing cross-section concept
evolved from many years of analytical and wind tunnel work
performed as part of NASA's aeronautical research program.
Other NASA centers that contributed to fundamental research and
technologies adopted for the 777 include Ames, Dryden and
Taken as a whole, these advances contribute to airline profit
margins and passenger service, savings and safety.
For more information, please contact:
NASA Langley Research Center
Office of Public Affairs
Mail Stop 115
Hampton, VA 23681-0001
Visit a NASA Langley photo gallery that includes
models used in aeronautical research.