The model, which has been in secret testing, is 2m long and 3.2m wide, with a surface area of about 2.25m2. The blended wing design means there is no distinction between fuselage and wing, and they are instead melded together. With a new aerodynamic profile and a potential for weight reductions, it could potentially use less fuel than conventional designs.
The configuration also opens up possibilities for different propulsion systems and integration, Airbus said, as well as a “versatile cabin for a totally new on-board passenger experience”.
“Airbus is leveraging emerging technologies to pioneer the future of flight. By testing disruptive aircraft configurations, Airbus is able to evaluate their potential as viable future products,” said Jean-Brice Dumont, EVP Engineering Airbus.
“Although there is no specific timeline for entry into service, this technological demonstrator could be instrumental in bringing about change in commercial aircraft architectures for an environmentally sustainable future for the aviation industry.”
The project started in 2017, and the model first flew in June 2019. Testing will continue until around the middle of the year.
Other teams are developing blended wing aircraft. Dr Roelof Vos from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands is also hoping to achieve 20% lower fuel consumption with his ‘Flying-V’ concept, partially based on an Airbus patent.
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