NASA – The X-48B Blended Wing Body

x48b

NASA – The X-48B Blended Wing Body.

The airplane is the X-48B, an advanced concept, fuel-efficient blended wing body or BWB. It’s called a blended wing body because it looks more like a modified triangular-shaped wing than the traditional aircraft, which is a tube and wing with a tail.

The eight-and-a-half percent scale prototype is being tested in the Langley Full-Scale Tunnel at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

Boeing Phantom Works’ advanced research and development unit has partnered with NASA and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to explore and confirm the structural, aerodynamic and operational advantages of the blended wing body design.

“The biggest difference between this aircraft and the traditional tube and wing aircraft is that this does not have a tail,” said Dan Vicroy, senior research engineer at NASA Langley. “The whole reason you have a tail is for stability and control. So what we want to do with this wind tunnel test is to look at how different multiple control surfaces can be used to control this particular vehicle.”

The team has produced two high-tech prototypes of the BWB, built to Boeing specifications by Cranfield Aerospace in England, for wind tunnel and flight-testing. The Air Force has designated the vehicles as the “X-48B” based on its interest in the design’s potential as a multi-role, long-range, high-capacity military aircraft.

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