You are on page 1of 29


1.1 Motivation

On 17 December 1903, at a little after 1030 in the morning, a winged contraption made of canvas, wood and wire began to move along a rail placed on a freezing, gale-lashed sand flat in North Carolina. As a tiny petrol engine strained to turn the machine's twin propellers, it gained speed and its wings began to generate lift. As the force increased and overcame the craft's weight, Orville and Wilbur Wright's Flyer took to the air. It remains one of the greatest moments in technological history. But with the success of that first flight of a powered, heavier-than-air craft all 12 seconds of it - it would be tempting to think that the pair of Ohio bicycle mechanics had solved aviation's engineering problems. But now, in the second century of powered flight, aviation engineers are still battling to find better ways to solve some of the very same problems the Wrights faced, and many others of which the pair could never have dreamed. A short 44 years after 1903, the swept-wing Boeing B-47 took flight. A comparison of these two airplanes shows a remarkable engineering accomplishment within a period of slightly more than four decades. Embodied in the B-47 are most of the fundamental design features of a modern subsonic jet transport: swept wing and empennage and podded engines hung on pylons beneath and forward of the wing. The AirbusA330, designed 44 years after the B-47, appears to be essentially equivalent, as shown in Fig. 1.

Apart from evolutionary improvements in conventional aircraft, revolutionary changes are possible when the "rules" are changed. This is possible when the configuration concept itself is changed and when new roles or requirements are introduced. The aircraft market is a fast growing but also competitive business. Therefore the aircraft building companies invest a lot of effort into the research for new aircraft configurations to be one step ahead of the other companies to accomplish the given constraints and requirements for the aircraft market of tomorrow. One of the results of these researches is the blended wing body aircraft (BWB). The BWB is a non conventional aircraft configuration.




Fig. 1.1 Aircraft design evolution, the first and second 44 years.

Blended Wing Body (BWB) aircraft (Fig 2)have a flattened and airfoil shaped body, which produces most of the lift, the wings contributing the balance. The body form is composed of distinct and separate wing structures, though the wings are smoothly blended into the body. Blended wing body has lift-to-drag ratio 50% greater than conventional airplane. Thus BWB incorporates design features from both a futuristic fuselage and flying wing design. The purported advantages of the BWB approach are efficient high-lift wings and a wide airfoil shaped body. This enables the entire craft to contribute to lift generation with the result of potentially increased fuel economy and range. Another advantage of this design is that the fuselage offers more room for payload compared to the conventional aircraft with a comparable span size. This makes the BWB an alternative to conventional aircraft for the market of tomorrow.

Fig 1.2 Computer generated model of BWB.

1.2 History of BWB

A flying wing is a type of tail-less aircraft design and has been known since the early days of aviation. Since a wing is necessary of any aircraft, removing everything else, like the tail and fuselages, results in a design with the lowest possible drag. Successful applications of this configuration are for example the H-09 and later H-0229 developed by Horton Brothers for Nazis during 1942. Latter Northrop started designing flying such as X2H1 in 1929 Fig 1.3, YB-49 Bomber in 1949 Fig1.4 and later B2 Spirit Stealth Bomber Fig 1.5 which flew first in 1989.

Fig1.3 Northrop X2H1 1929

Fig 1.4 Northrop YB-49 Bombe 1949

Fig 1.4 Northrop B2 Sprit Stealth bomber USAF , 1989 R H Leibeck[1] has quoted that In 1988, when NASA Langley Research Centres Dennis Bushnell asked the question: Is there a renaissance for the long haul transport? there was cause for reaction. In response, a brief preliminary design study was conducted at McDonnell Douglas to create and evaluate alternate configurations. A preliminary configuration concept, shown in Fig.

1.5, was the result. Here, the pressurized passenger compartment consisted of adjacent parallel tubes, a lateral extension of the double-bubble concept. Comparison with a conventional configuration airplane sized for the same design mission indicated that the blended configuration was significantly lighter, had a higher lift to drag ratio, and had a substantially lower fuel burn. In modern era after B-2 Bomber (1989) blended wing body was used for stealth operations. The unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) named X-47 in year 2003 was subjected to test flights. Flight test began on 20th July and the first flight reached an altitude of 7500 feet MSL (2286 m) and lasted for 31 min. On 4th September first remotely piloted aircraft was stalled. Latest being the NASA and Boeing successfully completed initial flight testing of Boeing X-48B on March 19, 2010.

Fig 1.5 Early blended configuration concept In modern era after B-2 Bomber (1989) blended wing body was used for stealth operations. NASA and Boeing successfully completed initial flight testing of Boeing X-48B and X-48 Fig 1.6 scaled models on March 19, 2010. MIT and Cambridge university is engaged in a similar project code named Silent Aircraft And have created a scaled model called SAX-40 in Nov 2006 Fig 1.6.

Fig 1.6 SAX-40, MIT and Cambridge University Silent Aircraft Project

How BWB differs from flying wing design? Flying wing designs are defined as having two separate bodies and only a single wing, though there may be structures protruding from the wing. But blended wing body aircraft have a flattened and airfoil shaped body, which produces most of the lift to keep itself aloft, and distinct and separate wing structures, though the wings are smoothly blended in with the body.


As Blended wing body aircraft is a futuristic aircraft concept still in its experimental stage, a very little experimental data is available. It is the work of Liebeck RH [1], [2] which are considered as the stepping stone of the BWB concept. He has conducted preliminary studies on the design and various other practical constraints that BWB presents. He has analyzed various advantages and physical design constraints that BWB possesses. J.K. Northrop [5] who is considered as a the brain behind the development of Flying wing concept has conducted and designed successfully various flying wing aircrafts which has revolutionarised the aviation industry. He is considered as the father of flying wing design concept which has further redesigned as the BWB concept NASA along with Boeing is been engaged in an extensive research and development in BWB concept to build a Huge passenger aircraft and have begun testing the scaled model and they have conducted various preliminary wind tunnel test the results of which are presented by Pelkman, R.A [3] Roman, D et al. [6] , Pambagjo TE et al. [4] and Toshihiro Ikeda [14] have conducted various aerodynamic analyses of BWB design using CFD and wind tunnel testing using scaled model as a part of ongoing research of NASA and Boeing . Toshihiro Ikeda [14] has conducted detail design optimization and cfd analysys of BWB model with significant results showing various adaerdynamic advantages of BWB. One of the greatest advantages that drives aviation industry towards BWB concept is the huge Noise reduction possible by various design attributes that are inherent to the BWB design itself these have been analyzed and tested by Clark et al. [8] and Hill G et al. [10]. The works of Douglass, W.M [7] , Smith, L.H [9], Plas A.P [13] throws light into the various propulsion systems that have been considered for the BWB design has been Boundary layer ingestion system which has been a center of study for a long time in aeronautics industry. Schetz J et al. [12] have conducted feasibility studiesby comparing the CFD simulation results with the present day propulsion system data available studiewhat are the possible advantages of distributed propulsion system to reduce noise of the aircraft.

Geuskens [11] has studied and proposed various possible pressure cabin configuration for BWB passenger aircraft configuration taking into consideration of various pressurization difficulties in the unique design of BWB .this study offers two possible cabin design for the BWB passenger aircraft configuration with test results to substantiate their findings.


NASA Langley Research Centre funded a small study at McDonnell Douglas to develop and compare advanced technology subsonic Transports for the design mission of 800 passengers and a 7000-n mile range at a Mach number of 0.85.Composite structure and advanced technology turbofans were utilized. Defining the pressurized passenger cabin for a very large airplane offers two challenges. First, the square-cube law* shows that the cabin surface area per passenger available for emergency egress decreases with increasing passenger count. Second, cabin pressure loads are most efficiently taken in hoop tension. Thus, the early study began with an attempt to use circular cylinders for the fuselage pressure vessel, along with the corresponding first cut at the airplane geometry. The engines are buried in the wing root, and it was intended that passengers could egress from the sides of both the upper and lower levels. Clearly, the concept was headed back to a conventional tube and wing configuration. Therefore, it was decided to abandon the requirement for taking pressure loads in hoop tension and to assume that an alternate efficient structural concept could be developed. Removal of this constraint became pivotal for the development of the BWB. Passenger cabin definition became the origin of the design, with the hoop tension structural requirement deleted. Three canonical forms shown in Fig 3.1a, each sized to hold 800 passengers were considered. The sphere has minimum surface area; however, it is not stream lined. Two canonical stream lined options include the conventional cylinder and a disk, both of which have nearly equivalent surface area. Next, each of these fuselages is placed on a wing that has a total surface area of 15,000 ft2. Now the effective masking of the wing by the disk fuselage results in a reduction of total aerodynamic wetted area of 7000 ft2 compared to the cylindrical fuselage plus wing geometry, as shown in Fig 3.1b. Next, adding engines (Fig 3.1c) provides a difference in total wetted area of 10,200 ft2. (Weight and balance require that the engines be located aft on the disk configuration.) Finally, adding the required control surfaces to each configuration as shown in Fig 3.1d results in a total wetted area difference of 14,300 ft2, or a reduction of 33%. Because the cruise lift to drag ratio is related to the wetted area aspect ratio, the BWB configuration implied a substantial improvement in aerodynamic efficiency.

a) Effect of body type

b) Effect of wing/body integration

c) Effect of engine installation d) Effect of controls integration Fig 3.1 Genesis of the BWB concept.

Modern supercritical airfoils with aft camber and divergent trailing edges were assumed for the outer wing, whereas the centre body was to be based on a reflexed airfoil for pitch trim. A proper span load implies a relatively low lift coefficient due to the very large center body chords. Therefore, airfoilLW102Awas designed along with a planform indicating how pitch trim is accomplished via center body reflex; whereas the outboard wing carries a proper span load all of

the way to the wingtip. Blending of this center body airfoil with the outboard supercritical sections yielded an aerodynamic configuration with a nearly elliptic span load. At this early stage of BWB development, the structurally rigid center body was regarded as offering free wingspan. Outer wing geometry was essentially taken from a conventional transport and bolted to the side of the center body. The result was a wingspan of 106.28 m., a trapezoidal aspect ratio of 12, and a longitudinal static margin of -15%, implying a requirement for a fly-by-wire control system.

The aft engine location, dictated by balance requirements, offered the opportunity for swallowing the boundary layer from that portion of the center body upstream of the inlet, a somewhat unique advantage of the BWB configuration. In principle, boundary-layer swallowing can provide improved propulsive efficiency by reducing the ram drag, and this was the motivation for the wide mail-slot inlet. However, this assumed that such an inlet could be designed to provide uniform flow and efficient pressure recovery at the fan face of the engine(s).

Two structural concepts (Fig 3.2) were considered for the center body pressure vessel. Both required that the cabin be composed of longitudinal compartments to provide for wing ribs 3.81 m. apart to carry the pressure load. The first concept used a thin, arched pressure vessel above and below each cabin, where the pressure vessel skin takes the load in tension and is independent of the wing skin. A thick sandwich structure for both the upper and lower wing surfaces was the basis for the second concept. In this case, both cabin pressure loads and wing bending loads are taken by the sandwich structure. A potential safety issue exists with the separate arched pressure vessel concept. If a rupture were to occur in the thin arched skin, the cabin pressure would have to be borne by the wing skin, which must in turn be sized to carry the pressure load. Thus, once the wing skin is sized by this condition, in principle there is no need for the inner pressure vessel. Consequently, the thick sandwich concept was chosen for the center body structure. Passengers are carried in both single and double deck cabins, and the cargo is carried aft of the passenger cabin. As a tailless configuration, the BWB is a challenge for flight mechanics. Future generations of BWB designs would begin to address constraints not observed by this initial concept, but the basic character of the aircraft persists to this day.

Fig 3.2 Cabin Pressure vessels structures

Square-Cube LawWhen a physical object maintains the same density and is scaled up, its mass is increased by the cube of the multiplier while its surface area only increases by the square of said multiplier. This would mean that when the larger version of the object is accelerated at the same rate as the original, more pressure would be exerted on the surface of the larger object.


A NASA/industry/university team was formed in 1994 to conduct a three year study to demonstrate the technical and commercial feasibility of the BWB concept. McDonnell Douglas was the Program Manager, and the team members included NASA Langley Research Center, NASA John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field, Stanford University, the University of Southern California, the University of Florida, and Clark-Atlanta University. The original 800passenger 7000-n mile design mission was retained.

4.1 Aerodynamics

An aircraft concept is best decided in its feasibility for its aerodynamic performance. Here is a CFD analysis done by Toshihiro Ikeda [14] on BWB model to study various advantages BWB offers in the aerodynamic behaviours.

4.1.1 Aerofoil Slection

In the conceptual airfoil design, an existing airfoil series was referred to, and the XFOIL code, which is an interactive program for the design and analysis of subsonic isolated airfoils was utilised for 2D airfoil selection. In this research, NACA , H_Quabeck and Eppler airfoil series were analysed for the BWB wing design. The airfoil selection process was focused on the airfoil component achieving higher L/D ratio in level flight within the design requirements (i.e. cabin space for 555 passengers and 66.4 tonnes payload).

An airfoil which can achieve approximately 0.4 of lift coefficient with zero angle of attack (in level flight) has been set for the airfoil selection of BWB configuration in 2D design phase . Fig. 4.1 and Fig. 4.2 show the comparison of 4 different airfoil series using XFOIL program.

Fig 4.1 Comparison of Lift Coefficient Using XFOIL (M = 0.85, Re = 2.83108), Toshihiro Ikeda [14]

Fig 4.2 Comparison of Drag Coefficient Using XFOIL (M = 0.85, Re = 2.83108) Toshihiro Ikeda [14]

In regards to an airfoil selection for the root section of the BWB , the initial airfoil design was referred to as NACA0015 and NACA0009. The thickness of the initial airfoil was enough for the cabin compartment at the location of maximum thickness. However, for the whole cabin compartment, the initial airfoil was not feasible to achieve passengers comfort. The initial airfoil was redesigned with consideration of cabin space, as well as improving aerodynamic performance. Also, the location of the maximum thickness was moved to the airfoil chord, approximately 15 percent backward. An airfoil at the 16 m spanwise of the BWB , NACA2509 was initially chosen and analysed according to the aerodynamic features. To improve aerodynamic features on the wing in flight, Eppler417 was selected for the wing of the BWB configuration.

In Fig. 4.3, the comparison of pressure contour between the initial and the optimised airfoils at the central wing section are shown and in Fig. 4.4 , the comparison of pressure contour between the baseline and Eppler417 airfoils at the 16 m spanwise was shown.

Fig 4.3 Contours of Static Pressure of the Central Wing Section (Left: Initial Airfoil, Right: Optimised Airfoil), Toshihiro Ikeda [14].

Fig. 4.4 Contours of Static Pressure of the 16 m Spanwise Wing Section (Left: NACA2509, Right: Eppler417), Toshihiro Ikeda [14]

The baseline airfoils (NACA0015+0009 and NACA2509) changed to improve the aerodynamics and the selected airfoils (Optimised and Eppler417) generated a higher L/D in cruise in Table 4.1, as well as higher momentum coefficient on 25 percent of airfoil chord.

Table 4.1 CFD Results of Four Selected Airfoils, Toshihiro Ikeda [14]

4.1.2 Aerodynamic Analysis of the BWB Model

From the conceptual BWB sketchesproviede by Leibeck[1] Fig 4.5 , the BWB models have been optimised and analysed in aerodynamic performance in flight. To evaluate the aerodynamic features of the BWB designs, the FLUENT package was utilised to simulate air flows surrounding the aircraft in similar physical conditions of the actual cruising aircraft and to compare these three aircraft models in aerodynamic capability within the Realisable k-O turbulence model in Fluent, which include combining the Boussinesq approach and eddy viscosity methodologies . In this case, the viscous model was defined with Mach number 0.85 and the Reynolds number of 5.12108 within atmosphere conditions of 11,000 m altitude.

Fig 4.5 Optimised CATIA design of BWB , Toshihiro Ikeda [14]

The optimized BWB configuration was designed using the trends of wetted aspect ratio and L/D to determine a wing area of the BWB configuration, and the current airport compatibility issue was periodised to decide the length of the wingspan. Since the relationship between aspect ratio and L/D, the wetted and reference area of the BWB were minimized retaining all required components in the wing. Moreover, the wing design of the BWB was considered with typical methodologies of subsonic aircraft, such as swept angle. Fig. 4.6 reveals the differences between the three aircraft models. These aircraft have been designed with the same flight mission profile. When comparing the BWB designs between the initial and the optimised models, the optimised model was redesigned with the thinner width wing and thicker thickness of the cabin dimension than the initial BWB model. In detailed the optimised BWB design (Orange colour in Fig. 4.6) is approximately 40 percent shorter than the A380 (73 m overall length) and its body size (excluding the engines) is approximately 1.5 meter shorter than the baseline BWB model (45.5 m). This downsizing of the aircraft leads to reduced material cost and operates easily at airports. However, the main design parameters of the both airplanes design were the same, such as the wingspan, the number of passengers and the flight mission segment profile.

Fig. 4.6 Comparison of the A380 and BWB Configurations for the Same Design Mission (Green: A380-800, Orange: Optimized BWB Design, Gray: Baseline BWB Design) Toshihiro Ikeda [14]

In regards to the boundary layer conditions for CFD simulation, a half model of the BWB design was utilized, and the BWB model was defined as wall and the engines intake was defined as an outlet in Fluent, which means that air flow was just through the boundary area of the fans (Fig. 4.7: Red Colour Area).

Fig. 4.7 Boundary Area Conditions for CFD Simulation, Toshihiro Ikeda [14]

The baseline BWB model met all design requirements of BWB configuration such as less than 80 meters wingspan, 555 passengers cabin layout and 66.4 tonnes payload capabilities, and then this model was analysed for aerodynamic features in Fluent. The initial BWB model was simulated in turbulent flow conditions and the aerodynamic features (i.e. lift coefficient, drag coefficient and momentum coefficient etc).

Before the complete BWB models were simulated in Fluent, the BWB designs did not include engines and were analysed according to aerodynamic capabilities to see whether selected airfoils can generate a lift properly and to see how much CD provides. Fig. 4.8 shows the CFD results of static pressure on the top and bottom surfaces of the BWB design which was simulated using the Realisable k-O turbulence model in Fluent. This BWB model was designed with Eppler417. With these contours of the BWB model (Fig.4.8), the wingspan-wise of this BWB proved to generate lift, as shown the light green area on the top surface which means that the area provides lower pressure than the surrounding area (Bernoulli equation). On the bottom surface, the aft body has a higher pressure area (Orange and yellow colours), and the location of higher pressure occurred at the middle cabin area (Deep green colour). With the CFD results of this BWB, the model was altered and optimised for the pressure distribution to create more lift, and the aerodynamic features were analysed and adjusted to change the pressure distribution and make is smoother on the bottom surface through selecting proper airfoils for the BWB model.

Fig. 4.8 CFD Results of the Progressive BWB (Eppler417) without Engines Toshihiro Ikeda [14] The CFD result of the optimised BWB model is shown in Fig. 4.9. This models airfoil section was redesigned with the optimised NACA airfoil series. and then the redesigned model was computed to simulate airflows around the model. In the CFD results (Fig. 4.9), the upper surface has a lighter blue colour area than the previous model on the wingspan-wise which ensures that the lower pressure area was expanded to generate lift. Furthermore, the orange colour area (Fig.4.8) on the bottom surface was now removed and the pressure contours pattern were changed gently.

Fig. 4.9 CFD Results of the Progressive BWB (NACA & Eppler Airfoils) without Engines Toshihiro Ikeda [14]
The CFD results of the BWB models with the different airfoil sections, with the detailed aerodynamic features are presented in Table 4.2. When the two BWB models are compared according to aerodynamic features, the second stage BWB design with altered airfoil sections became more aerodynamically efficient (i.e. the drag was approximately reduced by 30 percent) in flight. Moreover, the second stage BWB design

achieved 1.05 times higher L/D ratio than the first BWB model through having changed the airfoil designs during level flight.

Table 4.2 CFD Results of the progressive BWB Models without Engines, Toshihiro Ikeda [14]

In the next stage, the draft BWB design had three engines on the aft body added. The baseline complete BWB model (Fig.43.10) was then analysed according to aerodynamic parameters in Fluent using the Realisable k-O turbulence model, and the CFD results are shown in Fig. 4.10. With the contours of aerodynamic features (Fig. 4.10 Left: Static Pressure, Right: Static Pressure with Lines of Turbulent Kinetic Energy), the initial BWB model was proved to generate lift on the wing, because the upper surface shows a lighter green colour than the surrounding area which means that above the lighter green area has a lower pressure than other area.

Fig. 4.10 CFD Result of the Baseline BWB Configuration by the Realisable k-O Model (M = 0.85, Re = 5.12108), Toshihiro Ikeda [14]

The baseline BWB model was then modified on the wetted aspect ratio to improve aerodynamic performance of the BWB model. In regards to design techniques for aerodynamic improvement, the size of the progressive model was reduced and the wetted area optimized , and then the wetted aspect ratio became 3.89, and the CL was 0.31778 which is approximately 1.6 times higher than the baseline BWB, and at the same time the CD was reduced by 80 percent of the total drag. These

alterations also resulted in a reduced parasite drag of the aircraft model, because its drag primarily relates to skin-friction drag, and as such is directly proportional to the total surface area of the configuration exposed to the air. Moreover, more suitable airfoils were identified and analyzed for the BWB configuration and more efficient and better performing airfoils were chosen.

After the CFD results, the initial BWB model was seen to have unfeasible airfoils which were NACA0009, NACA0015 and NACA2509, because there was not enough data on airfoil design for the BWB configuration. After investigating and considering possible airfoil design for the BWB, a higher performance airfoil was chosen, achieving more than 0.4 of lift coefficient in level flight. The initial BWB model was then redesigned, and the aerodynamic performances were optimized and improved as shown the CFD results in Table 4.3. In regards to the CFD results from the three different BWB models, the optimised BWB model achieved 21.43 of the L/D ratio which is 10 times higher and with 83.6 percent less drag than the initial model. According to the aerodynamic parameters of the three BWB models, the progressive BWB models achieved approximately 0.158 of the CL which may lead to the conclusion that a CL of this shaped BWB model will be limited and the CD of the optimised BWB obtained lower value than as calculated for the A380 model. When comparing to the B747 of the main stream airliner, the CD value of the optimised BWB is 3.5 times more effective in level flight. Additionally, the higher L/D ratio may be predicted to provide several advantages including the potential to achieve to reduced noise emission, and to require less engine thrust as well as to being more economical

Table 4.3 Improvement of Aerodynamic Capabilities of the BWB Configurations, Toshihiro Ikeda [14]

The CFD results of the progressive and optimised BWB models, the contours of static pressure and its image with contour lines of lift distributions are shown in Fig 4.11 and Fig.4.12. Both BWB aircraft were analysed according to aerodynamic efficiency using Fluent with the same flight conditions. Through Fluent visualisation a pressure distribution was identified.

Fig. 4.11 Visualisation of the CFD Results of the Progressive BWB Model Toshihiro Ikeda [14]

Fig. 4.12 Pressure Distribution of the Optimised BWB Model, Toshihiro Ikeda [14]

According to Fig.43.11 and Fig. 4.12, the static pressure distribution of the optimised BWB shows that the colour pattern of the upper surface is changed smoothly and this pressure is distributed over the whole wingspan-wise area. Moreover, the optimized BWB configuration has a lower pressure indicated by the green colour area on the upper wing compared to the progressive BWB. This means that the model can generate a higher lift than the previous BWB models.

In regards to the turbulent kinetic energy, Fig.43.13 shows the results of the comparison of the A380 and the optimized BWB design based on the horizontal axis. In the comparison of both configurations, the plots of kinetic energy of the BWB model gather around the aft body from approximately 35 m (the location of the engines) to 45 m (the end of the body), but the results of the A380 model of kinetic energy were plotted on the wide range of the overall length, especially at the locations of the engines, winglet and tails. Moreover, the winglet of the BWB model creates a turbulent flow (as shown by the blue colour area on the winglet in Fig.4.12). In this case of the winglet, this consequence is attributed to a failure of the mesh quality in the grid solution. However, the plotted results of turbulent kinetic energy show, the BWB design has been proved more aerodynamically efficient, because the BWB configuration performs with less energy dissipations.

Fig. 4.13 Plots of Turbulent Kinetic Energy (k) (Left: Airbus A380, Right: the Optimised BWB Model) ,Toshihiro Ikeda [14]

Fig. 4.14 shows the scaled residuals of the optimised BWB model with several parameters. In this research CFD simulations were calculated with approximately 1,000 iterations to obtain accurate aerodynamic models in Fluent. The average processing hour of these CFD calculations was approximately 150 hours calculating through the Realisable k-O turbulence model.

Fig.4.14 Scaled Residuals of the Optimised BWB Model, Toshihiro Ikeda [14]

4.2 Wind-Tunnel Tests Transonic and low-speed wind-tunnel tests of the BWB configuration were conducted in the National Transonic Facility (NTF), and NTF results are compared with CFD predictions. Excellent agreement for lift, drag, and pitching moment, as well as wing pressure distributions, is shown, including up to and beyond buffet onset. A primary objective of the test was to establish the effectiveness of the current state-of the-art CFD methods for predicting the aerodynamic characteristics of a BWB airplane. The remarkable agreement indicated that CFD could be reliably utilized for the aerodynamic design and analysis. A low-speed test of a powered 4% scale BWB was conducted in the NASA LaRC 14x22 foot wind tunnel. Results showed favourable stall characteristics, and showed excellent control power through stall. Power effects were found to be much smaller than expected.

4.3 Propulsion

The aft engine location on the BWB offers the opportunity for ingestion of the boundary layer generated on the centerbody forward of the inlets. In principle, boundary layer ingestion (BLI) can improve the propulsive efficiency by reducing ram drag. This assumes that an inlet can be designed that provides proper pressure recovery and uniform flow at the fan face of the engine.

Alternatively, the boundary layer can be diverted around the sides of the inlets, but this implies dumping low-energy air into an already transonically stressed pressure recovery region. Simply mounting the engines on pylons is another option, but increased wetted area and weight plus nose down thrust moment are detractors from this installation.

Studies of the BLI concept were conducted at the University of Southern California (USC) and at Stanford University. At USC, a wind-tunnel simulation was created with an upstream flat plate to generate the boundary layer and various duct geometries, leading to a station representing the fan face of the engine, where the flow quality was evaluated. Results indicated that proper configurations of vortex generators could provide a reasonably uniform flow at the fan face with acceptable pressure recovery. These results were utilized at Stanford University to help guide a theoretical multidisciplinary optimization study of the BWB engine inlet concept. NavierStokes based CFD was used to represent the center body and inlet flow field, and engine performance was modeled as a function of the flow quality at the fan face. The optimizer indicated that minimum fuel burn was obtained with the engine swallowing the boundary layer, as opposed to diverting the boundary layer around the inlet. The aft engine location of the BWB allows for several installation options; however, integration affects all of the basic disciplines. Uniquely for a BWB, there is no explicit penalty for the centerline engine of a three-engine installation. Candidate installation concepts include podded with pylon, upper or lower surface inlet with S-duct, BLI, or diverter; and, finally, the engine count itself. Airplanes were sized for 12 different combinations with appropriate gains and losses for inlet recovery and distortion, wetted area drag (including the adjustment for BLI), weight, and thrust moment. The figure of merit was the TOGW. Additional considerations included ditching, emergency egress, foreign object damage (FOD), noise, reverse thrust, and maintainability. Lower surface inlets were discarded on the basis of FOD and ditching. A three-engine configuration with upper surface BLI inlets and S-ducts to the engines was selected. If BLI did not prove practical, boundary layer diverters were assumed to be the default.

4.4 Implications on Human comfort From the preliminary models and the CFD results, the BWB offers greater structural, aerodynamic and effective flight operation than the A380. Also, advantages and disadvantages have been identified specifications of the BWB concept, such as the wide cabin layout.. The major negative impacts on human health in the BWB concept design are caused by the small numbers of installed windows possibly causing more motion sickness. Other health problems are no different to general air travel in commercial aircraft.

The windows on aircraft have a positive effect for the travellers, helping them to relax have comfortable viewing and enjoy natural sun light in flight. However, it is a difficult in the BWB layout to install many windows on the surface as conventional aircraft, because the cabin is located within the wing and the structural strength will be lower if windows are employed on the surfaces. Therefore, the LCD may be substituted for typical aircraft windows to be shown outside view as well as the entertainment programme during flight (Aerospace Medical Association 2001).

In regards to the wider cabin design, the flight motion has influence on the traveller during flight. For example, passengers sitting on the edge of the cabin are more likely to suffer motion sickness, especially when the BWB aircraft is climbing, turning and approaching the runway, because the vertical motion of the passenger is steeper than the conventional aircraft by bank angle. In this particular case, a passenger on the BWB aircraft sitting in a seat which is 12 m from the centre line (i.e. the passenger seats at the edge of cabin) will be moved up 3 m from the level flight on the Z axis (Fig. 4.15) if the aircraft is turning at a 30 degrees bank angle (e.g. On the A380 the passenger will be moved approximately 2 m higher than the level flight), and also the passenger will feel more acceleration through the centrifugal force.

To help remedy these negative factors, the BWB aircraft design needs new developments for traveler comfort through structure and flight control arrangements. For example, a lower bank angle can be recommended to control passengers vertical motion for passenger comfort during flight.

Fig. .15 Typical Flight Rotation Profile with the BWB Configuration To conclude, there are important issues involved in the design of a new configuration from a nonengineering perspective in BWB concept design. The BWB configuration may produce several health problems for passengers, such as motion sickness, pulmonary embolism (caused by space restriction) and claustrophobia (exacerbated by less windows). These symptoms should be considered along with aircraft design, especially for commercial aircraft. In this case, installing windows is important for passenger comfort during flight, or windows should be substituted with a LCD monitor system.


Radically different from conventional aircraft configurations, the BWB presents special design challenges. Where the design of conventional aircraft can be divided between different disciplines, no discipline can work independently on the BWB. Where configuration can set the fuselage and aerodynamics can set the wing on a conventional aircraft, the two disciplines are forced to work together in defining a low-drag wing that adequately encloses the payload on the BWB. In that task, the large number of geometric degrees of freedom coupled with a number of geometric and aerodynamic considerations present a substantial problem. Adding consideration of weight, balance, stability, and control issues turns this into an challenge.

Disadvantages and design challenges of the BWB shape also include less inherent flight stability than the tube design, less structural suitability for internal pressurization (it's easier to pressurize a tube than a wider, oval cross-section like the BWB's), a lack of passenger side windows, and a layout that moves passengers and cargo off the aircraft's centerline, which exaggerates the vertical motion felt when the plane rolls to turn.

Further increasing the challenge, the BWB has unique design features that require higher fidelity modelling than might be acceptable for conventional designs. To enclose the payload within the wing, the BWB has very thick airfoil sections over its body. Attaining low drag, transonically, with these airfoils is an aerodynamic challenge. In this region, the wing structure doubles as pressure vessel for the cabin, presenting flat panels that must support pressure loads over large spans dictated by the cabin arrangement. Designing and analyzing these panels and assessing a weight for them is a substantial challenge for structures and weights disciplines. To reduce drag, the design is tail-less, but this creates interesting challenges for stability and control: first, to balance the airplane and provide sufficient control power, and second, to ensure that control deflections for trim do not adversely affect the spanload and hence the drag. A final challenge lies in the aft-mounted engines and the difficulties with propulsion and airframe integration. Before undertaking a credible effort on the BWB, some of these issues had to be addressed with new analysis methods.

Will such an aircraft ever be built? That's the decision the manufacturer will have to make. But if a large subsonic aircraft to take the place of the 747 is really needed, it appears that the BWB concept offers the most for the necessary investment. It's lighter, more commodious, more fuel efficient, requires far less power, and is certainly more aesthetic in appearance. True, looks aren't everything, but that old aviation adage still holds true, "If it looks good, it will fly good," and the BWB aircraft, in addition to much improved economy, simplicity and handling, certainly has any potential flying watermelon beaten hands down.

The BWB was first created by the commercial aircraft division of McDonnell Douglas (MDD), a firm that was purchased by Boeing in the mid-1990s. Though Boeing expressed little interest in continuing most of MDD's projects, they have shown the foresight to carry on low-level development of the revolutionary BWB. However, Boeing has not yet provided any indication that the design will go into full-scale development or production. While such an aircraft could potentially reduce operating costs significantly, concerns have been raised about compatibility with existing airport infrastructure and the difficulty of evacuating so many people from the deep interior cabin in an emergency. In addition, many airlines are worried that passengers may be unwilling to fly an aircraft that is so different looking from what they are used to. Perhaps because of these concerns, the most likely application for a BWB design in the near future is a military transport or refueling tanker rather than a commercial airliner. NASA has been funded to test a subscale version of the BWB called the X-48 to evaluate the feasibility of the idea. Completed 100th test flight of Boeing X48 Fig 5.1 BWB Scaled model on 11/05/2012.

In recent years, international air tourism has increased significantly, especially in travel to East Asia, the Pacific, and the Middle East regions. According to the WTO (World Tourism Organisation) Tourism 2020 Vision, international travel numbers are expected to increase to over 1.6 billion people by 2020, which is twice the current number (WTO 2005). With this massive increase in air travel demand, the BWB aircraft configuration as a very large airfreight transport vehicle may be looked at favourably as a potential mainstream airliner for the high-density hub to hub routes in the near future.

BWB also resulted in the reduction of manufacturing parts required resulting in reduction of manufacturing cost and also eliminated the passenger egress problem in the case of emergency with also increasing the speed. It also showed a distinct result for higher Mach number and can be designed for M=0.95. A show-stopper of airplane industry BWB shows quite a good distinction from the conventional aircrafts and has a very important role in bringing the airplane industry to the state it is in today.