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NASA was successful in demonstrating a manufacturing technique to make large hybrid aircraft possible. Compared to the conventional jet planes, a hybrid aircraft is more fuel-efficient and produce less noise.
Before the NASA demonstration, there were four generally known airplane shapes – a tube with wings, a blended wing body, a hybrid wing, and a flying wing. The last three discard the use of the tube for a flatter chassis that has an almost rectangular cross-section. The body on these three designs also act like wings giving additional lift to the aircraft. It gives the advantages of reduced weight and drag resulting to higher top speeds and less fuel consumption. However, aerospace engineers have always faced the dilemma that flying wings cannot transport large number of people. The US military use a dozen of flying wings aircraft, but these are generally small aircraft that do not necessarily consider that comfort of the soldiers that use it. The B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber of Northrop Grumman is the probably the most popular example of a hybrid aircraft.
In the space agency’s demonstration, NASA showed a manufacturing method of making a hybrid flying wing aircraft that can be big and comfortable enough for commercial travel. The new technique can reduce up to 25 percent of the aircraft’s structural weight. NASA hopes that in a decade or two, this manufacturing technique can be use to build commercial jet planes.
The hybrid flying wing is part of NASA’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) project. The project started in 2009 and aims to reduce the impact of aviation on the environment.
News Source: www.extremetech.com