The New X-Plane

The Air Force has designated the Advanced Composite Cargo Aircraft technology demonstrator the X-55A. Under an Air Force Research Lab contract, Lockheed Martin modified a Dornier 328J aircraft, replacing the mid/aft fuselage and empennage with an advanced composite structure. The ACCA first flew in June. AFRL program manager Barth Shenk, said this effort “may drastically change the way we manufacture future military and civilian aircraft.” The X-55A used 300 structural parts in its composite elements compared to 3,000 in the aircraft’s original components. And, it used 4,000 mechanical fasteners compared to the original 40,000. AFRL awarded Lockheed a Phase III ACCA contract last month to proceed to baseline the X-55A as a testbed for other technologies and to expand the flight envelope and to examine design reliability and longevity.