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.
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.