Boeing tests 'Blended Wing' plane

Boeing and NASA testing subsonic ‘Blended Wing Body,’ to make planes super-efficient.

Boeing and NASA researchers are testing a 13-foot-wingspan, 6 percent scale Blended Wing Body (BWB) model at a subsonic wind tunnel at the NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia.

Boeing is readying the BWB for the next step in maturing the concept– a manned demonstrator.

Above, image credit NASA Langley photo by David C. Bowman

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Boeing is back in the wind tunnel testing one of its most innovative and potentially game-changing advanced concepts: the Blended Wing Body.

Testing is underway through the end of September at the NASA Langley Research Center 14- by 22-Foot Subsonic Tunnel in Virginia. Boeing and NASA researchers are using a 6 percent scale, 13-foot-wingspan Blended Wing Body (BWB) model to validate testing methodology, as well as map airflow over the airplane using lasers and smoke with a technique known as particle imagery velocimetry (PIV).

Time permitting, testing will be conducted to measure the effectiveness of various control surfaces. That data will be compared with and supplement the set of data collected over the last two years on the same model at NASA Langley and the much larger 40- by 80-foot subsonic tunnel at NASA Ames Research Center in California.

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“Testing the same model in two very different tunnels gives us data to make our test methods better,” said Dan Vicroy, principal investigator at NASA Langley. “Plus these tests will let us do PIV – something we didn’t do before.”

“Our tests are a continuation of more than two decades of successful research and development of this concept, which is unparalleled in industry,” said John Bonet, Boeing’s test director for the BWB. “What we learn from this round of testing will be used to complete the definition of our aerodynamic, stability and control low-speed databases – a major milestone in the technology development of the concept.”

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source Boeing