Boeing tests X-48C blended wing aircraft model

CHICAGO, 8 Aug. 2012. Boeing (NYSE: BA) flew a modified Blended Wing Body research aircraft, designated the X-48C, for the first time today at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The flight was performed to collect data on the design, featuring several changes from the B-model of the aircraft.

X-48C
X-48C
CHICAGO, 8 Aug. 2012. Boeing (NYSE: BA) flew a modified blended wing body research aircraft, designated the X-48C, for the first time today at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The flight was performed to collect data on the design, featuring several changes from the B-model of the aircraft. The X-48C is a scale model of a heavy-lift, subsonic vehicle that forgoes the conventional tube-and-wing airplane design in favor of a triangular aircraft that merges the vehicle's wing and body. Boeing and NASA believe the BWB concept offers the potential over the long-term of greater fuel efficiency and reduced noise. The X-48C is a modified version of the X-48B aircraft, which flew 92 times at NASA Dryden between 2007 and 2010. The X-48C is configured with two 89-pound thrust turbojet engines, instead of three 50-pound thrust engines on the B-model; and wingtip winglets have been relocated inboard next to the engines on the C-model, effectively turning them into twin tails. The aft deck also was extended about 2 feet at the rear. The modified test vehicle was designed by Boeing and built by Cranfield Aerospace Ltd., in the United Kingdom, in accordance with Boeing requirements.

With a 21-foot wingspan, the 500-pound aircraft is an 8.5 percent scale model of a heavy-lift, subsonic airplane with a 240-foot wingspan that possibly could be developed in the next 15 to 20 years for applications such as aerial refueling and cargo missions. The X-48C has an estimated top speed of about 140 miles per hour, with a maximum altitude of 10,000 feet. The X-48C project team consists of Boeing, NASA, Cranfield Aeropace, and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory.

Engineers from Boeing Research & Technology, the company's central research and technology organization, will be working with NASA engineers during flight tests of the X-48C, which are expected to continue throughout 2012. As handling qualities of the X-48C will be different than those of the X-48B, the project team has developed flight control software modifications, including flight control limiters to keep the airplane flying within a safe flight envelope.

Boeing and NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate are funding X-48 technology demonstration research. The effort supports NASA's Environmentally Responsible Aviation project, which has goals to reduce fuel burn, emissions and noise of future aircraft.

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