Airbus Unveils Blended Wing Demonstrator

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Airbus officially introduced its Model Aircraft for Validation and Experimentation of Robust Innovative Controls (MAVERIC) blended wing body technological demonstrator on Tuesday at the 2020 Singapore Airshow. Airbus believes the design could “reduce fuel consumption by up to 20 percent compared to current single-aisle aircraft.” The remote-controlled scale model demonstrator measures 2 meters (about 6.56 feet) long and 3.2 meters (10.5 feet) wide.

“By testing disruptive aircraft configurations, Airbus is able to evaluate their potential as viable future products,” said Engineering Airbus Executive Vice President Jean-Brice Dumont. “Although there is no specific time line for entry-into-service, this technological demonstrator could be instrumental in bringing about change in commercial aircraft architectures for an environmentally sustainable future for the aviation industry.”

MAVERIC has been undergoing flight testing since June 2019. Airbus says it intends to continue the test campaign until the end of the second quarter of 2020. The MAVERIC project was launched in 2017 as part of the company’s Airbus UpNext research and development unit, which is also working on projects including the E-Fan X hybrid-electric demonstrator and Autonomous Taxi Take-Off & Landing (ATTOL) system.

Video: Airbus

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18 COMMENTS

    • Passengers no longer look out windows, except for a few oddballs.
      So you can have 30 comfortable seats in a row and no one will worry as long as they have a screen in front of them….
      Apparently the numbers from the model are much better than expected, so much so they might overcome modern airlines reluctance to handle any engine which cannot be easily reached from the ground.
      It will of course mean that Airbus will have to sell it with seats. At the moment all passenger jets are sold without seats. 30 comfortable seats in a row might make it a success. Cramming 50 in as airliners will do if left alone, will give the plane a very bad rep.

  1. Unless air’s molecular structure changes and ceases to be air, there will always be minimum aerodynamic requirements for an airplane to fly, be controllable, and carry a payload. Yes, I am saying the understanding of aerodynamics has progressed far enough either by slide rule or algorithms, that have already defined the most efficient shapes for flying machines. No amount of computer modeling, artist conceptions, and wishful thinking is going to change those aerodynamic rules. Consequently, their shapes are now known.

    All flying machines are and will be a compromise. All of the shapes possible results from those compromises required by aerodynamic physics. All of the shapes possible has reached its pinnacle. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun if flying within earth’s atmosphere.

    Airbus owes royalties to the Horton brothers, Willie Messerschmidt, Burt Rutan, and Jack Northrup just to name a few. They owe similar royalties to dozens of model airplane builders whose free flight designs dating from the 1920’s and RC’s post 1995 that have far exceeded Airbus’s MAVERIC’s flying RC prototype in everything but expense. The next frontier for flight where new technology and designs might evolve and successfully applied to is in aircraft power plants.

    After reading this article and viewing accompanied pictures/video, I now realize I could have become a millionaire had I built a carbon fiber and foam, quarter-scale, semi scale ME 263 ( not a typo) with an internally mounted electric ducted fan ( oops, too futuristic), I will place the ducted fan in the vertical stab as per artist rendering, loaded with a Foreflight powered taxi app for tracking center-lines, with return to starting point receiver software, painted in Airbus livery, and submitted it to Airbus. Maybe I could be a billionaire if I added a few retractable electric motors that pop out of the wing making it the next VTOL “urban mobility” wing-thing. Willie would be doing snap rolls in his grave had he seen Airbus’s MAVERIC.

    For $89 dollars I can buy a semi-sale, foam, three channel RC Champ that will take-off or can be hand launched that will fly by itself and return to my feet without any control input.

    The only thing disruptive is the price tag. Certainly not the design, the propulsion, or the control mechanisms/guidance systems. I guess they can get 20% more fuel economy because passengers and crew will have be in the prone or semi-prone position. At least Airbus has insured that deplaning will be faster because there will be no more overhead luggage bins in their ME 263 inspired MAVERIC. I guess if one built a prototype flying wing/lifting body the size needed to accommodate standing human beings you might not have to lie down or crawl to get on board. Oh yeah, Jack Northrup already did that 70+ years ago.

    • The Me 263 has absolutely no resemblance to the MAVERIC model, what so ever and the name is spelled Jack Northrop.

      This model is much more complex and detailed than a typical RC model. It much more resembles the NASA Boeing X-48 BWB (Blended Wing Body) demonstrator and has pretty much the same purpose.

      NASA also has their own BWB designs, and so has Lockheed-Martin with their HBW (Hybrid Blended Wing) and Dzune, with their BWB X-Plane concept.

      Airbus is simply doing their own research, as should be expected from a large aerospace manufacturer. It baffles me how many commentators on this forum are so uninformed but so outspoken about all sorts of issues.

  2. “Disruptive aircraft configurations” = MAVERIC, see what they did there? And with that bout of old school acronymical constipation, Airbus is telling us they’re edgy with ‘tude, they’re happ’nin. I wonder if they’ll cut a sponsorship deal to carry Red Bull logos on all their product.
    When Boeing developed its flying scale model of a blended-wing liner more than a decade ago, the questions were asked: How will the occasional aircraft of this configuration interface with existing terminals, ramps, and jetways? Or will airports need to be completely redesigned and reconfigured as everybody updates their fleets? Will $$$ saved by carriers through fuel efficiency still offset the increased fuel tax so the FAA can then fund airport construction projects?

  3. I would say that the fundamental issue with BWB design, forward thinking as it may seem to be, is that it can’t be stretched easily. The reason the Aluminum tube design has lasted so long is that one fundamental design can be a building block for a variety of configurations. Consider the DC-9/MD-80, 81, 82, 87, 88/717; a design that lasted for decades and was stretched several times, depending on the mission (and sometimes to ridiculous proportions). The 747 was also lengthened (and shortened to the -SP).
    Changing the basic dimensions of a BWB design would require fundamental investments in design, certification, tooling, training, testing and so on. As the 737 design has shown, the economics of mass air transport don’t support innovation in air-frame design.

  4. Considering the amount of money some major airports have spent making modifications to accommodate the A-380, I doubt that they will be too anxious to make the changes needed for this much more radical design. The A-380 was supposed to be the wave of the future, but it has pretty much shriveled away, leaving the airports with gates that don’t suit anything else. Fool me once……