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NASA Wraps Up Test Flights of X-48C

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NASA’s remotely piloted X-48C subscale aircraft, which has been doing demonstration flights to showcase technology ideas for cleaner and quieter air travel, wrapped up its work on 9 April.

The C model of the X-48 had its first flight at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on 7 Aug., and its 9 April flight was its 30th and last trip.

“Very quiet and efficient, the hybrid wing body has shown promise for meeting all of NASA’s environmental goals for future aircraft designs,” says Fay Collier, manager of NASA’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation project.

Boeing designed the manta ray-shaped craft, which was built by Cranfield Aerospace Ltd. of the United Kingdom and flown in partnership with NASA. Its design is intended to test concept studies for commercial aircraft that could be flying in the next two decades.

Bob Liebeck, Boeing’s Blended Wing Body Program manager, says the design shows that such aircraft offer “the tremendous promise of significantly greater fuel efficiency and reduced noise [and] can be controlled as effectively as a conventional tube-and-wing aircraft during takeoffs, landings and other low-speed segments of the flight regime.”