The Air Force's X-48B has a date with
Edwards Air Force base at the end of this year. The research plane, which
is a joint development between the Air Force, Boeing and NASA, used a blending
wing body which promises greater lift and up to 30% greater fuel economy. The Air
Force sees the design as having the potential for a "multi-role,
long-range, high-capacity military transport aircraft."
The blended wing design is nothing new as the B-2 Spirit bomber
uses a similar approach. That plane is known for its stealth abilities as well as its
high-maintenance needs. The test program will feature two remote-controlled
aircraft built on a 1/12 scale. Each will be powered by three jet engines and
will feature a wingspan of 21
feet. The ceiling will be set at 10,000 feet and speeds
will be limited to 135 MPH
during the 25 test flights planned for 2007. From LA Daily News:
The aircraft will be
flown by a pilot in a ground station equipped in such way to give the feeling
of actually being in the aircraft. Instead of a computer joystick, it'll have a
stick and rudder pedals from an actual aircraft, and video from the aircraft
will be transmitted to the station to provide an out-the-cockpit-window view.
quote: 30% greater fuel economy
quote: The Air Force sees the design as having the potential for a "multi-role, long-range, high-capacity military transport aircraft."
quote: used a blending wing body which promises greater and up to 30% greater fuel economy.