Airbus: toy blended-wing test aircraft flies
In Singapore, today (11 February 2020) Airbus publicly revealed the tortured acronym of its 2 by 3.5-metre scale model of a ‘blended wing body’ test aircraft ‘MAVERIC’ (Model Aircraft for Validation and Experimentation of Robust Innovative Controls).
The model is designed to demonstrate the wing/body technology, that has been around since WWII when it resulted in the design of the B-2 Bomber and later the X-48 – a collaboration between Boeing and NASA – way back in 2012:
I presume the reason it didn’t continue was, well shale oil, and the USA’s self sufficiency in oil. Suddenly it wasn’t quite so much of a priority.
Wing-body combo increases fuel efficiency
Airbus is looking for up to a 20 per cent reduction in fuel usage, compared to current single-aisle aircraft.
The ‘blended wing body’ also opens up possibilities for new seating configurations, which hold out the promise for a very different passenger experience, and possibly new propulsion systems.
The project commenced way back in 2017, but the plane itself only took to the air in June 2019 and will only continue the middle of 2020.
“By testing disruptive aircraft configurations, Airbus is able to evaluate their potential as viable future products . . . this technological demonstrator could be instrumental in bringing about change in commercial aircraft architectures for an environmentally sustainable future for the aviation industry.”Jean-Brice Dumont, EVP Engineering Airbus.
This is part of AirbusUpNext, research programme. It’s not the only thing they have in that particular black box either. They are also working on E-FAN X (hybrid-electric propulsion), fello’fly (v-shaped ‘formation flight) and ATTOL (Autonomous Taxi Take-Off & Landing).
Yeah – I don’t understand what the last two things either.
Well, an alternative to the flying cigar tube of current aircraft sounds interesting, but I wouldn’t be holding my breath. This is not a particularly new concept – since its been around for 60 odd years, and no one has taken it to a working full-size model. Maybe Airbus will, but possibly not in my lifetime.