Image from article 1.

The links below, such as aerospace-technology.com, are just a selection of the recent buzz around what is being described as the blended wing aircraft revolution.

These articles highlight the potential for blended wing body (BWB) in both the defence and commercial aircraft sectors.

The best way to describe the design is a fixed wing aircraft aircraft without the clear division between the main body that you get in a conventional design.

The design itself is far from a new concept having been proposed initially in the 1920s by Westland Dreadnought. The first BWB to be put in to production was the Lockheed A-12/ M-21 in 1962.
So why is the concept being resurrected with renewed vigour?

Aerodynamic efficiency is one of the clear benefits of fixed wing aircraft. This is brought about by less surface area contact with the air. This results in less drag factor in comparison to conventional winged aircraft. This gives greater range, fuel economy and reliability.

Obviously, with the aviation industry under pressure to reduce its carbon footprint these are key motivational factors.

Boeing, in particular, has led the development in fixed wing aircraft with both military unmanned (UAVs) as well as passenger aircraft being designed and prototyped. The 797, capable of accommodating 1,000 seats (made possible by the BWB design). Airbus is also exploring similar options for passenger aircraft.

Until now, BWB aircraft have been confined to high-altitude reconnaissance and bomber aircraft. But there has been a significant resurgence in interest in the application for civil aviation. It is thought likely that a ‘flying wing’ will make an appearance as near as 2041, given another development by KLM Dutch Airlines in corroboration with Delft University of Technology. See a selection of the many articles speculating on the fixed wing revolution.

1. Blended Wing Revolution
2. US Air Force’s New B-21 Raider
3. Flying V’ Plane