Photos: Boeing's X-48B takes wing

The experimental aircraft looks like a flying wing, but Boeing and NASA say looks can be deceptive. See how you like the new blended style.

Boeing X-48B
The X-48B takes a breather from wind tunnel tests in 2006. Boeing

Get out bat signal. The Caped Crusader is going to want one of these.

Boeing calls the design of its new flying-wing lookalike, the X-48B, a "blended wing body." That's for obvious reasons: the aircraft's wings blend smoothly into the fuselage, where older flying wings were really just, well, wings.

The experimental X-48B has made a half-dozen flights so far, all at Edwards Air Force Base in California since the middle of July, and is in the shop for a brief stint as researchers do some scheduled maintenance and start poring through the aeronautical data. It'll make a flurry of test flights again before the end of the year. Along with Boeing, NASA and the Air Force Research Laboratory are taking notes.

Don't go reaching for your Red Baron leather helmet, goggles and scarf just yet, though. See, this is just an unmanned scale model, with a wingspan of 21 feet. You wanna fly it, you'll have to keep both feet on the ground, though the remote-control apparatus is apparently full-fledged airplane equipment.

To find out what the plane looks like in flight, when a full-size model might be ready and how today's blended-wing design evolved from the 1940s-era flying wing, see "Photos: The blended-wing design of Boeing's X-48B."

 

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