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  • ACCA to be X-55?
    Posted by Graham Warwick 1:23 PM on Jun 05, 2009

    The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory is still hopeful of getting a coveted X-plane designation for its Advanced Composite Cargo Aircraft, which flew for the first time at Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works on June 2. The next number available is X-55, says AFRL program manager Barth Shenk, X-54 having been reserved for a NASA low-boom supersonic demonstrator that has yet to materialize.

    blog post photo

    blog post photo
    Photos: Lockheed Martin

    Interviewed after the flight, Shenk pointed out that ACCA is the first new aircraft - "the first new mold line" - flown by AFRL in 20 years. Which explains why it's so keen on getting an X-plane designation - and why NASA Dryden is helping with flight test. It's been a while!

    Interestingly, Shenk says ACCA qualifies for an X- designation because the technology it demonstrates - advanced composite materials and manufacturing processes - is "pervasive beyond the type to which it is applied". If it was just applicable to cargo aircraft, ACCA would get an XC- designation, he says. The last of those I can remember was the tiltwing XC-142.

    And don't worry about ACCA having flown before getting its X-number. NASA's Active Aeroelastic Wing demonstrator didn't get its X-53 designation until after the modified F-18 had finished flight testing!

    Tags: ar99, AFRL, ACCA, Lockheed

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