The airplane is the X-48B, an advanced concept, fuel-efficient blended wing body or BWB. It's called a blended wing body because it looks more like a modified triangular-shaped wing than the traditional aircraft, which is a tube and wing with a tail.
The eight-and-a-half percent scale prototype is being tested in the Langley Full-Scale Tunnel at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.
Boeing Phantom Works' advanced research and development unit has partnered with NASA and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to explore and confirm the structural, aerodynamic and operational advantages of the blended wing body design.
"The biggest difference between this aircraft and the traditional tube and wing aircraft is that this does not have a tail," said Dan Vicroy, senior research engineer at NASA Langley. "The whole reason you have a tail is for stability and control. So what we want to do with this wind tunnel test is to look at how different multiple control surfaces can be used to control this particular vehicle."
Diferent sites say diferent things, some cargo, some tanker, some bomber. Intelligent Speculation and 'my best friends uncles college roomate says:' are both appreciated.
Texfly101 From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 351 posts, RR: 0 Reply 2, posted (7 years 3 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 3293 times:
This aircraft, the first X-48B along with the second X-48B demonstrator, are being developed by Boeing in conjunction with Cranfield Aerospace, a subsidiary of Cranfield University, a British University. The second will be flight tested later this year at Edwards AFB as a non-military aircraft to investigate high-quality aerodynamic and flight control data for low speed flight (LSV). And its being privately financed by Boeing. While it originally was slated to be developed for NASA as the X-48B, it was cancelled and the budget eliminated. But Boeing decided to go ahead with the development and flight testing in order to collect the data for future design efforts and to develop the software and control laws. Since it is not a militarily/governmental funded program, the commercial world is most likely the target of the design investigation even tho it will most definitely be used in the future tanker/cargo, UCAV designs to come.
Lehpron From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 7028 posts, RR: 22 Reply 3, posted (7 years 1 week 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 2982 times:
In my mind some designs can be optimised for just taking off and staying up for long periods of time without changing altitudes or flight paths, so then I conclude these BWB variants to be either freighter or commercial transport.
For some reason I peg bombers and tankers still having to manuver a bit more than a stable platform like a transport by having to depositing some of it's payload halfway.
Having said all of that, to conclude certain concepts can only do what is proposed is, well, I see that as unimaginitive and even narrow-minded.
TedTAce, X-48B may evolve into anything, or even nothing.
Personally I'm curious about Boeing's X-50, the hydrocarbon fueled scramjet.
The meaning of life is curiosity; we were put on this planet to explore opportunities.