Saturday, July 28, 2007

Tailless and it may become a Legend

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE — An experimental tailless jet that resembles a wing flew for the first time in a program that could lead to more fuel-efficient, quieter and higher-capacity aircraft, NASA said Thursday.

Controlled from a ground station, the 8.5%-scale version of the planned X-48B "blended wing body" aircraft took off July 20, climbed to 7,500 feet and landed about half an hour later, according to NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in the Mojave Desert.

The X-48B resembles a wing, but the wing blends into a wide, flat fuselage, NASA and Boeing Co. said. The prototype is 500 pounds with a 21-foot wingspan. It has three engines.

The design is intended to provide more lift with less drag compared with the cylindrical fuselage of a traditional aircraft, reducing fuel consumption while cruising.

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