Wings are a crucial element in the creation of lift. As an aircraft’s engine produces thrust, air flows over the top of its wings resulting in an upward pulling force known as lift. Without wings, an aircraft would be able to move forward, but it could not stay in flight. While fixed wings have long been the industry standard, many aircraft have unique wing configurations. A newer type of wing, known as the blended wing, features a webbed design. These aircraft are known as blended wing airplanes.
Also known as hybrid-wing body airplanes, blended wing airplanes are a type of airplane characterized by webbing around the wings. Unsurprisingly, the ‘blended wing’ moniker stems from the fact that their wings blend into the body. While most aircraft have clearly defined or segmented wings, blended wing airplanes blur the lines of wing and fuselage. So, what is the point of blended wing airplanes when traditional fixed wing aircraft have been used for decades? The fact is, blended wing airplanes offer distinct advantages over fixed wing aircraft.
Rather than the engine, much of the noise created by an aircraft is actually the result of the air sweeping over the wings. The unique design of blended wing aircraft allows air to smoothly glide over the wings and produce much less noise. They are far from silent, but blended wing aircraft are a quieter alternative nonetheless.
It is only a matter of time until blended wing aircraft are commonplace. Major aerospace manufacturers like Boeing Aircraft and Airbus are currently working on their own models. For example, Boeing has partnered with NASA to develop and test full-scale models of a blended wing aircraft at NASA’s research center. Airbus has similar aspirations and is currently working on the MAVERIC aircraft project. Once completed, Airbus estimates that this blended wing aircraft will be 20% more fuel efficient than standard fixed wing aircraft.
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