Suggesting that someone outside NASA and a small band of rebels at Boeing thinks this could be the shape of the future, Airbus has been assigned a US patent for a blended wing boby (BWB) aircraft design. The inventor is the profilic Olivier Cazals, whose series of patents for tail designs was featured recently on Things With Wings.
Artwork: US Patent and Trademark Office
It's the tail that's different about this BWB design - the engines would be suspended from the high-set tailplane so that the airframe and vertical fins provide the maximum shielding of fan - or open rotor - and jet noise. This is significant, because there is a growing belief that the BWB configuration could hold the key to dramatically reducing aircraft noise.
NASA is windtunnel-testing the second Boeing X-48B subscale unmanned BWB demonstrator modified to increase noise shielding. The changes include extending the aft fuselage rearward and moving the vertical fins inboard to increase shielding of jet noise. The tests are focused on the checking the low-speed aerodynamics of the revised configuration.