Early airplanes were a mess. Human flight was new, and as technology moved from “a barely functioning jumble of cloth, wire, and engines” to “deadly war machines” in less than a decade, all sorts of wacky configurations were attempted along the way. One of these early innovations was the truss, a support structure connecting the wing to the body of the plane, which can still be seen in small, prop-driven planes to this day. Jet planes mostly moved away from the design, but now NASA wants to … brace yourself … bring it back.
These new trusses brace the wing so that it can be longer, thinner, and lighter, while still supporting a plane. From NASA:
Trusses allow for bigger wings, which means more lift. But there are still some truss issues: the truss itself adds drag, but if well designed, that should be more than offset by the improved wings the plane offers. Besides the fuel efficiency and reduced emissions, there’s a hidden, silent benefit: the wings should be quieter, which is great for anyone who doesn’t love the sound of roaring jets overhead.