NASA’s remotely piloted X-48C hybrid-wing-body subscale aircraft, completed an eight-month flight research campaign on April 9, 2013. In this image, the aircraft flies over the intersection of several runways next to the compass rose on Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards Air Force Base. Image © NASA / Carla Thomas
The scale-model aircraft, shaped like a manta ray, which demonstrates technology concepts for cleaner and quieter commercial air travel, was designed by Boeing Co., built by Cranfield Aerospace Limited of the United Kingdom, and flown in partnership with NASA. The X-48C is a version of NASA’s X-48B blended wing body aircraft modified to evaluate the low-speed stability and control of a low-noise version of a notional hybrid-wing-body design. This design features a flattened fuselage with no tail, and engines mounted on top of the fuselage at the rear of the plane. The design stems from concept studies for commercial aircraft that could be flying within 20 years. The studies are under way in NASA’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation Project.