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  • Blended Wing Body Passes Low-Speed Test
    Posted by Graham Warwick 3:17 PM on Apr 07, 2010

    NASA has completed Phase 1 flight tests of Boeing's X-48B, the subscale unmanned blended wing body (BWB) demonstrator, proving that the tailless flying-wing aircraft can be controlled at low speed. This is an important step for NASA, which believes only an unconventional configuration like the BWB can meet its aggressive environmental goals for a 2030-timeframe airliner.

    Video: NASA

    Phase 1 covered 80 flights at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center from July 20, 2007, to March 19 this year. The first 20 flights opened the flight envelope and paved the way for a further 52 flights during which the aircraft's dynamic response to movement of its multiple control surfaces was measured.

    Then followed the most challenging phase - eight "limiter assault" flights in which the remote pilot deliberately exceeded the defined angle-of-attack, sideslip and acceleration boundaries to test the control-system's ability to keep the aircraft flying safely. It did.

    blog post photo
    X-48B (Photo: NASA)

    NASA says X-48B Ship 1 will to return to flight later this year. Meanwhile, Ship 2 has been modified into the X-48C, with a new tail designed to shield the engine noise. With two turbogans replacing the X-48B's three model-aircraft turbojets, the X-48C is expected to fly next year to evaluate the noise benefits of a BWB configuration.

    blog post photo
    X-48C (Photo: NASA)

    Tags: tw99, NASA, Boeing, X-48, BWB

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