The X-48B Preparing for First Flight

The X-48B Preparing for First Flight
Boeing Phantom Works, NASA, and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory are preparing a new scaled-down version of a remote-controlled blended wing body (BWB) aircraft dubbed X-48B for flight tests early next year. The large wing shaped prototype was build to Boeing specifications by Cranfield Aerospace in England. The 21-foot wingspan prototype is meant to study the structural, aerodynamic, and operational advantages of the advanced BWB aircraft concept for potential use as a multi-role, long-range, high-capacity military aircraft.

 The current prototype is only 5% the size of the planned BWB aircraft and is powered by three turbojet engines that will allow the 500-pound, composite-skinned, prototype to fly up to 120 knots and 10,000 feet in altitude during flight testing. According to Boeing, one advantage of the BWB over conventional aircraft is that it’s about 30% more fuel efficient than an airplane of similar size that carries the same payload.

The U.S. Air Force believes that BWB aircraft could enter service within the next 10-15 years.
More information could be found in the NASA X-48B webpage and the Boeing Phantom Works website.
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About the author

Iddo Genuth

Iddo has a B.A. in Philosophy and Cognitive Science and an M.A. in Philosophy of Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently writing his Ph.D. thesis on the relationship between the scientific community and industry. Iddo was awarded the 2006 Bar Hillel philosophy of science prize for his work on the relationship between science and technology. He is a member of the board of the lifeboat foundation and was the editor of several high-profile science and technology websites since 1999.

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