I’m not following completely. According to the article, new wings enable top speeds up to Mach 0.8 (Google says that’s 615 mph), which is faster than traditional aircraft which fly up to 600mph. I’d say that’s a modest increase, or am I missing something.
Popular Mechanics kinda missed the point on this one.
There’s an article in Aviation Week that talks about this. The wing in question is long, very thin in chord, and has struts to the fuselage, much like many of the light Cessnas. The thing that changed was that previous studies of this configuration were limited to about Mach 0,4 ( iirc ). Boeing and NASA just did a new study and figured out how to get it to go Mach 0.6, like most airliners. The improved efficiency was not going to matter if the plane could only do Mach 0.4. That’s not competitive. So this means they can now look at a future airliner that uses the thin wing concept that would be competitive.
The only thing the 777 they have a pic of in PM is that the hinge mechanism at the tips is a candidate for the folding part of the concept wings. They’re VERY long, so will have to fold - nearly in half - to fit into existing gates and such.