CHICAGO, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- A scale model of a blended wing-body aircraft with the potential for greater fuel efficiency has been flight tested at a NASA facility in California.
The X-48C by Boeing is a heavy-lift, sub-sonic aircraft that is triangular in shape, merging the wings and body. It features two 89-pound thrust turbojet engines and wingtip winglets next to the engines.
An earlier version was flown more than 90 times from 2007-10 at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base.
In the current test, the X-48C was remotely piloted to 5,500 feet.
"Working with NASA, we are very pleased to enter into the next flight-test phase of our work to explore and validate the aerodynamic characteristics and efficiencies of the Blended Wing Body concept," said Bob Liebeck, a Boeing senior technical fellow and the company's BWB program manager.
"In our earlier flight testing of the X-48B, we proved that a BWB aircraft can be controlled as effectively as a conventional tube-and-wing aircraft during takeoffs and landings and other low-speed segments of the flight regime. With the X-48C, we will be evaluating the impact of noise shielding concepts on low-speed flight characteristics."
The modified test vehicle was designed by Boeing. Britain's Cranfield Aerospace Ltd. built the aircraft to Boeing specifications.
The test aircraft has a 21-foot wingspan. It weighs 500 pounds and is an 8.5 percent scale model of the aircraft, which could be used for aerial refueling and cargo missions.
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