Blended Wing Body


See a Blended Wing Body in action and learn about its design in this video. A model is also now on display in the National Air and Space Museum's How Things Fly exhibition.


Ask anyone what a plane looks like and most will tell you a tube with wings NASA researchers are trying to change that they're testing a design for a flying wing called a blended wing body or BWB which would be more fuel-efficient and carry more than today's aircraft technicians installed a five percent scale model of a BW B in the Langley full-scale tunnel owned by NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton Virginia and operated by Old Dominion University in Norfolk Virginia.

It has a 12-foot wingspan and we basically fly this model in the winter with test techniques called free flight where we actually have a control system onboard the airplane as well as high pressure air that we use to simulate the engines and we can actually fly the model in the wind tunnel.

It takes three pilots to fly the model during a free flight test plus technicians and the test director most of them are in a control room perched high atop the huge tunnel test section where the model flies constrained only by a tether cable the purpose of the free flight test is to help engineers better understand how well the airplane handles since it doesn't have a tail to help control it by conventional aircraft do we have a whole series of control surfaces along the trailing edge of the wing we have actually 18 control surfaces on this vehicle most airplanes would have about four you'd have the rudder and ailerons in the elevator and the flaps so we have considerably more on this vehicle and how you blend those to get the vehicle to turn correctly or or to pitch up and climb and as part of the research we're trying to do here.

NASA engineers say the BWB model flew quite easily which may bode well for its future as a new aircraft design NASA is working with Boeing phantom works on the research which currently centers on whether the blended wing body would be useful as a multi-role aircraft for the military