Blended Reincarnation Takes Off

The X-48C, a reworked remotely controlled model of Boeing’s blended-wing-body research aircraft, lifted off for the first time during a test flight at Edwards AFB, Calif., announced the company. The airplane climbed to 5,500 feet and flew for nine minutes during the Aug. 7 flight, according Boeing. The X-48C is an 8.5 percent replica mimicking the characteristics of a subsonic military airlifter with a 240-foot wingspan, states the company. X-48B—the previous iteration of the design that flew from 2007 to 2010—”proved that a BWB aircraft can be controlled as effectively as a conventional tube-and-wing aircraft during takeoffs and landings,” said Boeing Project Manager Robert Liebeck. “With the X-48C, we will be evaluating the impact of noise-shielding concepts on [the aircraft’s] low-speed flight characteristics,” he added. Engineers replaced the X-48B’s tri-jet propulsion with a pair of higher thrust turbojets. They also swapped the B model’s winglets for a pair of vertical stabilizers, and extended the aircraft’s aft deck. (See also NASA release and Boeing special report, including link to flight video.)