NASA demonstrates mantaray-shaped wing design
Jan. 30, 2013, Washington, D.C. - NASA has demonstrated a new manufacturing method to produce a practical mantaray-shaped hybrid wing, which could dramatically reduce fuel consumption.
The blended wing body (BWB) design combined with ultra-high bypass (UHB) engine is expected to lower fuel consumption by 50%, while offering a quieter journey for passengers.
NASA program manager Fay Collier said that although it might take two decades for the technology to be introduced to the market, the manufacturing technique could aid conventional commercial aeroplanes within the next 10 years.
Featuring a turbo design, the ultra-high bypass engines have a small, twisted propeller blades at the back, and the front fan is larger than the core of the engine.
In hybrid flying wing design, the UHB engines are mounted on top of the aircraft, cutting noise levels.
This technique lowers the weight of structural components of an airliner by 25 per cent, substantially reducing fuel consumption.
The advancement is a three-year effort by NASA and partners including engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney and Boeing.
NASA's manufacturing procedure begins with carbon composite rods, which are covered with carbon fibre fabric and the fabric is then stitched over foam strips to create cross members.
The fuselage sections built using this technique were tested and could withstand the necessary forces.
In order to validate the manufacturing approach for real-world use, the researchers are currently constructing a 30-foot two-level pressurised structure, which is scheduled to be complete by 2015.
Previously, NASA helped Pratt & Whitney in developing ultra-high bypass engines, which are scheduled to enter service in 2014 on Bombardier's CSeries jetliner.