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ZeeZoo
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How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Thu Jan 12, 2017 5:47 pm

I'm looking at the Lockheed Stealth Tanker concept and wondering how far away Boeing or Airbus are from pushing for a mainstream Blended-Wing Body design?

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C15rd4TWQAA5sbH.jpg
Last edited by ZeeZoo on Thu Jan 12, 2017 5:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
rutankrd
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Thu Jan 12, 2017 5:57 pm

Not in my life time

Perhaps in thirty years or so.

Look the current range of Boeings and Airbii designs are planned to be in production for twenty plus years whilst currently some major airlines are planning to operate existing 777s or as long as thirty years and the 787 and A350 designs are but infants.

These concepts may just remain that other than in simulations for some considerable time imho.
 
VSMUT
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Thu Jan 12, 2017 6:24 pm

I don't see it happening ever.

Look at it like this: A BWB is going to be very short. It would be like the proposed 777-100, or the A350-800 or A330-800. They will be short and stubby. At a very minimum increase in weight you can add a length of fuselage in the front and back of the wing, and in the process increase the passenger count and lower the CASM. It's a no-brainer. It is essentially like the 777-300ER vs the 777-200, or even the proposed 777-100.

We might see wings that blend more into the fuselage, but a passenger BWB such as the X-48? Never.
 
MD88CLE
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Thu Jan 12, 2017 7:13 pm

In addition to the problems already mentioned, you have the entire issue of emergency exit requirements. Without significant regulatory changes along with what I'm sure would be some significant research into evacuating passengers when the aircraft isn't shaped like a tube and passengers would be far from the usual locations, there's a significant barrier on that front as well.
 
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ual747den
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Thu Jan 12, 2017 7:16 pm

VSMUT wrote:
I don't see it happening ever.

Look at it like this: A BWB is going to be very short. It would be like the proposed 777-100, or the A350-800 or A330-800. They will be short and stubby. At a very minimum increase in weight you can add a length of fuselage in the front and back of the wing, and in the process increase the passenger count and lower the CASM. It's a no-brainer. It is essentially like the 777-300ER vs the 777-200, or even the proposed 777-100.

We might see wings that blend more into the fuselage, but a passenger BWB such as the X-48? Never.


Doesn't your statement contradict itself or am I reading something wrong?
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SteinarN
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Thu Jan 12, 2017 8:01 pm

And how are you going to do the pressurization? It is easy to pressurize a tube but a more flat/oval structure needs much more strenghtening to sustain any pressurization, which adds a lot of weight.
 
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Zkpilot
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Thu Jan 12, 2017 9:28 pm

SteinarN wrote:
And how are you going to do the pressurization? It is easy to pressurize a tube but a more flat/oval structure needs much more strenghtening to sustain any pressurization, which adds a lot of weight.

Chances are a BWB would effectively have a side by side double-bubble pressurised passenger compartment inside the external body.

As for emergency exit requirements, I see no reason why new exits can't be invented (would likely be a combination of below and above wing.

Whether it is worth the expense of developing this aircraft or not is a whole different question. I think we are at least 2 decades away from this and by that time we might finally have hypersonic transport.
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flyingcat
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:35 pm

It might be a while, Boeing might see potential to share costs with a military transport program, but they also love keeping older programs alive by militarizing them like the Poseidon.

BWB tech is already in the Sentinel. Just a matter of spreading into other programs.

A new sheet narrowbody could be a bold step. If Airbus indicates intent then you can bet Boeing will become more involved.

At least engine technology will not need a crazy breakthrough.
 
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lightsaber
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:38 am

A BWB is far more structurally efficient than a cigar with wings. Now that the controls and failure modes are much better known, we'll see one.

There is a reason so many concepts being proposed as BWBs/flying wings. Lockheed, Boeing, and especially Northrop have the expertise.

The passenger pressure vessel will eat subset of the whole.

The FAA was actively working evacuation with airframes.

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MoonC
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:56 am

There's just that "something" I can't point out in the design of a X-48-style BWB that just puts me off.
I wouldn't be able to step foot in one, no matter the advantages over the conventional wing-body-wing designs or how "cool" that would look, sorry.
Give me a 737 or 787 anytime.
 
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767333ER
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Fri Jan 13, 2017 5:14 am

MoonC wrote:
There's just that "something" I can't point out in the design of a X-48-style BWB that just puts me off.
I wouldn't be able to step foot in one, no matter the advantages over the conventional wing-body-wing designs or how "cool" that would look, sorry.
Give me a 737 or 787 anytime.

The funny thing is I don't like the 787 or the 737 that much and I hate the 737-900, but any of those seem amazing compared to a BWB flying movie theater. They day the pilotless BWB electro Eco plasticliners take over for good is the day I lose all interest in aviation.
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atypical
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Fri Jan 13, 2017 10:13 am

Zkpilot wrote:
Chances are a BWB would effectively have a side by side double-bubble pressurised passenger compartment inside the external body.

As for emergency exit requirements, I see no reason why new exits can't be invented (would likely be a combination of below and above wing.

Whether it is worth the expense of developing this aircraft or not is a whole different question. I think we are at least 2 decades away from this and by that time we might finally have hypersonic transport.


Never, or at least not by Boeing.

For emergency exits both up (only on a water landing) and down you are vastly increasing exit time, potentially making egress impossible for wheelchair bound and the elderly (at least slowing their exits substantially). You may not be able to evacuate the aircraft in the required time (90sec?) no matter how many exits are installed due to the climb (water and belly on ground).

Boeing did a test mockup interior and many customers were visceral in their dislike of the theater style seating, lack of windows, claustrophobic/cramped feel. Many strongly indicated they would never fly on such an aircraft. The feedback was so negative that Boeing scrapped the idea of developing a passenger model.

It is also thought the seats furthest from centerline might be unsellable due to air sickness\injury prone conditions occurring with any wing roll.

Ultimately the design is much better suited as an unpressurized cargo carrier with individual pressure containers inserted when animals or other products that require a pressure environment are transported.
 
Noshow
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Fri Jan 13, 2017 10:24 am

The next military transport aircraft might very well be a BWB. Bombers are BWB since the B-2, drones as well. It can't take too long after a military BWB-freighter until we see the first commercial BWB-freighter and then some passenger BWBs.I'd say less than 20 years. Any passenger cabin experience can be created by virtual means. Forest, beach or "window". We will wear augmented reality glasses anytime by then.
 
VSMUT
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Fri Jan 13, 2017 8:41 pm

ual747den wrote:
Doesn't your statement contradict itself or am I reading something wrong?


Just in case it wasn't clear enough, this is what I meant:

The BWB will be a short and stubby aircraft. It will be like the 777-100. Short, heavy and with a poor CASM:

Image

What I suspect will happen is that the BWB will evolve in a similar manner to the 777. The base model was stretched into the 777-300, increasing seat-count and lowering the CASM. So the BWB will really evolve into something similar to this rough drawing I made:

Image

:)
 
atsiang
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Fri Jan 13, 2017 10:28 pm

Can't see it ever happening, airports configurations would have to be redesigned.
 
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NeBaNi
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Fri Jan 13, 2017 10:32 pm

VSMUT wrote:
What I suspect will happen is that the BWB will evolve in a similar manner to the 777. The base model was stretched into the 777-300, increasing seat-count and lowering the CASM. So the BWB will really evolve into something similar to this rough drawing I made:
Image
:)

Not sure if you're joking with that smiley at the end but, in your drawing, where does the third engine go in the stretch? It looks like, in your picture, the third engine is half-embedded into the fuselage.
 
2175301
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Fri Jan 13, 2017 10:41 pm

atypical wrote:

Never, or at least not by Boeing.

For emergency exits both up (only on a water landing) and down you are vastly increasing exit time, potentially making egress impossible for wheelchair bound and the elderly (at least slowing their exits substantially). You may not be able to evacuate the aircraft in the required time (90sec?) no matter how many exits are installed due to the climb (water and belly on ground).

Boeing did a test mockup interior and many customers were visceral in their dislike of the theater style seating, lack of windows, claustrophobic/cramped feel. Many strongly indicated they would never fly on such an aircraft. The feedback was so negative that Boeing scrapped the idea of developing a passenger model.

It is also thought the seats furthest from centerline might be unsellable due to air sickness\injury prone conditions occurring with any wing roll.

Ultimately the design is much better suited as an unpressurized cargo carrier with individual pressure containers inserted when animals or other products that require a pressure environment are transported.


I disagree. Once cargo BWBs are in service (starting with the military) its a natural progression. What I believe you will see is a center compartment for the passengers - not much wider than a current wide-body (which eliminates the wing roll issue), with cargo storage in the wings alongside. Everyone gets their own window screen and can pick their view. I agree that it will be a mixed tube and blended wing - and there can be a side chute or passage way through the wing if needed for an exit. The millennial generation will adapt quite easily to not having real windows.

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Channex757
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Fri Jan 13, 2017 10:55 pm

atsiang wrote:
Can't see it ever happening, airports configurations would have to be redesigned.

As long as it stays within the 80m box then there's no reason why not. Moving stuff like jetways around has already been done for the A380.

If the planes and the passengers are there then airports will adapt.
 
VSMUT
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Sat Jan 14, 2017 1:38 am

NeBaNi wrote:
VSMUT wrote:
What I suspect will happen is that the BWB will evolve in a similar manner to the 777. The base model was stretched into the 777-300, increasing seat-count and lowering the CASM. So the BWB will really evolve into something similar to this rough drawing I made:
Image
:)

Not sure if you're joking with that smiley at the end but, in your drawing, where does the third engine go in the stretch? It looks like, in your picture, the third engine is half-embedded into the fuselage.


Ignore the half embedded engine, thats just my lack of skills with ms paint. It would of course go someplace else. It won't be terribly hard to imagine that the engines end up hanging below the wings like today, and we would probably only see twin-jets too.
 
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QuarkFly
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Sat Jan 14, 2017 4:40 am

There may never be a BWB passenger aircraft. Not only the issues described in previous posts, but as long as engine technology is the primary driver of efficiency in current airliners, the need for a new configuration is minimal. There is not yet a limit to jet engine efficiency improvements -- turbine engine enhancements and NEOs are providing regular gains with more to come...GTF progress, ceramic materials, ever higher bypass ratios, etc. Until engine technology stagnates, there is no need for a costly radical aircraft configuration change, so OEMs and very conservative airlines will not take the risk.

Also, engine placement on BWB is problematic. High BPR turbofans are so large, they have to be mounted on a BWB at the rear above the fuselage -- causing either boundary layer ingestion or high AOA air intake issues, not to mention maintenance difficulty just getting up to them.
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flyingclrs727
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Sat Jan 14, 2017 5:29 am

I wouldn't be surprised if the C-5 replacement is a BWB. Also, I wouldn't be surprised if there were a civilian model of the same plane for freight airlines.
 
frmrCapCadet
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Sat Jan 14, 2017 2:58 pm

Engine improvements are coming on at much higher prices, longer delays, heavier weights. So it is not exactly free. Improved aerodynamics can make a big contribution too.
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osupoke07
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Sat Jan 14, 2017 3:07 pm

One challenge that's been brought up before with BWB is the width. It will be a huge cost to reconfigure gates if a narrow body version is wider than the current A320 and B737. Long term, I think if there was a doubling of capacity with BWB (two 4-6 across tubes as opposed to one 6 across tube) if that can fit into 1.5 current narrow body gates, then the overall capacity would increase, so there might be an incentive for it.

Add folding wingtips for the last 5 meters or so too.
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NeBaNi
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Sun Jan 15, 2017 3:34 am

QuarkFly wrote:
Also, engine placement on BWB is problematic. High BPR turbofans are so large, they have to be mounted on a BWB at the rear above the fuselage -- causing either boundary layer ingestion or high AOA air intake issues, not to mention maintenance difficulty just getting up to them.

You say it like boundary layer ingestion (BLI) is a bad thing. BLI can actually save energy/ fuel. The article below says BLI can save 5-8% power compared to a non-BLI design, which can lead to even lower fuel burn.
http://aviationweek.com/awin/boundary-layer-ingestion-key-mitnasa-d8-hopes
 
ODwyerPW
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Sun Jan 15, 2017 3:48 am

I hope never. I couldn't afford the center seats.. and I'd puke everywhere else, everytime it banked to turn.
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Clipper101
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Sun Jan 15, 2017 2:30 pm

This artistic impression of a future BWB design found on Arconic Aerospace adds looks promising:

Image

Who said it is a must for the engines to be mounted on top of the fuselage aft edge? Remember the Hadley Page Victor and the Vulcan!

Image
Image
 
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airmagnac
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Sun Jan 15, 2017 4:01 pm

The structural weight to carry those engines so far outboard would probably cancel out any aerostructure gain you get from fusing wing & fuselage
And if the engines are closer in, then I guess sound-cancelling headphones become mandatory...
Evac with engine fire is going to be interesting. In particular if the fuel tanks are somewhere inboard as well
And designing around uncontained engine failure is going to be interesting.
etc...

BWBs/flying wings make sense for carrying freight or bombs. I'd really like to see a drone BWB cargo plane, but nobody will design an all newfreighter these days, much less a very peculiar one. Unless Amazon add a small-sized one to their portfolio of ideas.
Once human passengers are thrown in, there are just too many constraints that remove any aerostructure efficiency gain.
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Clipper101
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Sun Jan 15, 2017 4:38 pm

airmagnac wrote:
The structural weight to carry those engines so far outboard would probably cancel out any aerostructure gain you get from fusing wing & fuselage.


Are these structural weight increases proven or just expected is a vey important question to validate.

airmagnac wrote:
And if the engines are closer in, then I guess sound-cancelling headphones become mandatory...
Evac with engine fire is going to be interesting. In particular if the fuel tanks are somewhere inboard as well
And designing around uncontained engine failure is going to be interesting.
etc...


Other points are valid and interesting, they possess engineering challenges and yes if things gets serious it would be interesting thing to see their resolutions.

airmagnac wrote:
BWBs/flying wings make sense for carrying freight or bombs. I'd really like to see a drone BWB cargo plane, but nobody will design an all newfreighter these days, much less a very peculiar one. Unless Amazon add a small-sized one to their portfolio of ideas.
Once human passengers are thrown in, there are just too many constraints that remove any aerostructure efficiency gain.


BWB would be ideal into the use of pods (something similar to Thunderbird 2), pods for freight and pods for passengers, that could add in operational flexibility for use as cargo/passenger variants.
 
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atypical
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Re: How far away is the commercial airline industry from adopting BWB designs?

Sun Jan 15, 2017 10:29 pm

VSMUT wrote:

Just in case it wasn't clear enough, this is what I meant:

The BWB will be a short and stubby aircraft. It will be like the 777-100. Short, heavy and with a poor CASM:

What I suspect will happen is that the BWB will evolve in a similar manner to the 777. The base model was stretched into the 777-300, increasing seat-count and lowering the CASM. So the BWB will really evolve into something similar to this rough drawing I made:

Image

:)


Once you add the tube to the design it no longer is a BWB. In general I see wings moving to higher aspect ratios that can't be done on a large wing root or BWB. However, since the BWB is a lifting body the aspect ratio is not as important of a consideration.

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