...And A Boost For A Flying Wing

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OK, there is nothing new about the flying-wing concept, but a project working on what is now called a "blended-wing-body" aircraft just got a major boost, in the form of a 2.5 million-Euro grant from the U.K. government. The project is also gaining momentum by forming a consortium of Britain's Cranfield and Cambridge Universities with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the U.S. Investment is driven by a search for a quieter and more fuel-efficient aircraft for the future. Cranfield also is investigating using hydrogen instead of kerosene as a fuel source. The aircraft have the potential to fly nearly silently and carry up to 800 people, though regulations that govern evacuation procedures could limit that number. The project is due to report in 2006, and its scientists say the first passenger flights on a blended-wing aircraft could take place within 15 years. Boeing and Rolls Royce also are contributing to the effort.