Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman revealed details about their proposals for NASA Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) preferred system concept contest in Nashville, Tenn, where ERA leaders gathered for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Aerosciences conference.
There were surprises contained in each proposal, more details of which will appear in the next edition of AW&ST. What wasn’t particularly surprising was Boeing’s selection of the Blended Wing Body as its preferred concept. For that matter, neither was Northrop Grumman’s. Unaccustomed to developing commercial aircraft, Northrop offered up passenger and freighter variants of a flying wing which was based, of course, on the basic design of the B-2A bomber.
Boeing's updated ERA Preferred Systems Concept (PSC). (Boeing)
Note differences in the raked wingtips and canted vertical tails compared to last year's original concept art (below)
Northrop Grumman's passenger-carrying flying wing PSC. (Northrop Grumman)
Lockheed Martin’s design remained the most outlandish despite being the only one of the three to retain a conventional looking fuselage. The box-wing concept will, says Lockheed, only be feasible with the development of advanced composite structures. Feasible or not, the design gets my vote in the ‘cool’ category.
Lockheed Martin's box-wing design. Note engine installation. (Lockheed Martin)