.Posted by lex, on June 6, 2006
The LA Times today had a story on a concept I hadn’t heard of before: The oblique flying wing * –
The plane would have no fuselage or tail; early models resemble a cross between a giant boomerang and a surfboard. What it lacks in stability, it would more than compensate for with unequaled aerodynamic efficiency.
For commercial flight, such a plane could cut by half the time it would take to fly to Tokyo from Los Angeles — all without burning the massive amounts of fuel that ultimately doomed the Concorde supersonic jet.
For the military, which is paying for Northrop’s design work, the aircraft could fly quickly to a war zone and then loiter at low speeds to extend the time to carry out its mission.
“It’s the holy grail of aerodynamics,” said Joe Pawlowski, the program’s manager.
Not to be confused with flying wing designs of either antiquity (that’d be B2’s timeframe) or modernity, the OFW would actually pivot airborne, with the wing’s full span used for take-off, approach and landing, and the plane rotating around its center of lift to present a narrower profile in cruise flight.
The good news? Apparently the aircraft could supercruise without extended use of afterburners, subtracting hours off of intercontinental travel while enabling extended ranges (and efficiency). The bad news? It’s going to be huge.
If it ever gets off the ground, that is.
** 08-15-20 Link gone – Ed.