X-48C aircraft

Boeing has successfully completed an eight-month flight-test programme of the remotely piloted X-48C hybrid-wing-body subscale aircraft at Nasa’s Dryden Flight Research Center, located at Edwards Air Force Base in California, US.

Involving 30 test flights, the programme commenced in August 2012 to explore and further evaluate aerodynamic characteristics of the blended wing body (BWB) design concept, as part of Nasa’s environmentally responsible aviation (ERA) project, which aims to lower fuel burn, emissions and noise of future aircraft.

The aircraft operated for approximately 30 minutes, reaching speeds of up to 140m/hr, and attaining an altitude of about 10,000ft on most flights.

Nasa ERA project director Fay Collier said: "With the completion of X-48C flight testing, we have accomplished our goal of establishing a ground-to-flight database, and proving the low-speed controllability of concept throughout the flight envelope."

Collier added: "Both very quiet and efficient, the concept has shown promise for meeting all of Nasa’s environmental goals for future aircraft designs."

Boeing Senior Technical Fellow and BWB programme manager Bob Liebeck said: "We have shown that a BWB aircraft, which offers the tremendous promise of significantly greater fuel efficiency and reduced noise, can be controlled as effectively as a conventional tube-and-wing aircraft during takeoffs, landings and other low-speed segments of the flight regime."

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

Designed by Boeing Research & Technology and built by Cranfield Aerospace, the X-48C is a scale model of a heavy-lift subsonic vehicle that aims to replace the conventional tube-and-wing airplane design with a triangular tailless aircraft that effectively merges the vehicle’s wing and body.

A modified version of the X-48B aircraft featuring two 89lb thrust turbojet engines, instead of three 50lb engines, the X-48C’s wingtip winglets have been relocated inboard next to the engines, along with a 2ft extension in aft deck at the rear.

Flown in partnership with Nasa and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the aircraft is believed to be ready for aerial refuelling and cargo missions in the next 15 to 20 years.

Image: Nasa-Boeing X-48C BWB technology demonstrator prior to its first flight at Edwards Air Force Base in California, US. Photo: Carla Thomas.

Defence Technology