Aircraft

Airbus shows off MAVERIC blended-wing demonstrator aircraft

Airbus shows off MAVERIC blend...
The Model Aircraft for Validation and Experimentation of Robust Innovative Controls (MAVERIC)
The Model Aircraft for Validation and Experimentation of Robust Innovative Controls (MAVERIC)
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The Model Aircraft for Validation and Experimentation of Robust Innovative Controls (MAVERIC)
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The Model Aircraft for Validation and Experimentation of Robust Innovative Controls (MAVERIC)
Artist's rendering of MAVERIC
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The MAVERIC has its engines installed in its stabilizers
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The MAVERIC has its engines installed in its stabilizers
MAVERIC demonstrator landing
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MAVERIC demonstrator landing
Interior of a blended-wing passenger aircraft
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Interior of a blended-wing passenger aircraft
Virtual windows in an infotainment display
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Virtual windows in an infotainment display
The layout is intended to fight claustrophobia
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The layout is intended to fight claustrophobia
Blended-wing aircraft would have much more passenger space than a conventional airliner
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Blended-wing aircraft would have much more passenger space than a conventional airliner
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At this year's Singapore Air Show, Airbus has taken the wraps off its latest Blended Wing Body (BWB) scale model demonstrator aircraft. Called the Model Aircraft for Validation and Experimentation of Robust Innovative Controls (MAVERIC), the purpose of the miniature testbed is to study propulsion and other systems for an airframe where the fuselage and wing merge into one.

The BWB concept isn't new. The idea dates back to the 1920s and over the past century there have been various attempts to use some aspects of the design. Put simply, a blended wing body is an aircraft that's halfway between a conventional airplane and a flying wing. In the case of the former, the wing and the fuselage are two distinct structures, while in the latter the fuselage vanishes completely as the aircraft becomes one giant airfoil. In a blended wing, the fuselage and wing flow into one another without any clear boundary.

The reason why the blended wing is attractive to aerospace engineers is that it has a number of distinct advantages. By merging the fuselage into the wing, the surface area and hence drag is reduced, which increases fuel efficiency. In addition, there's more room for passengers and cargo inside, so a small blended-wing aircraft could compete with a larger conventional one.

Artist's rendering of MAVERIC

The Airbus MAVERIC demonstrator is only 2 m (6.6 ft) long and 3.2 m (10.5 ft) wide with a surface area of about 2.25 m² (24.2 ft²). It has two ducted fans in the rear stabilizers, which would be replaced with jets in a full-sized version that would also use a fly-by-wire control system. According to the company, the design has the potential to reduce fuel consumption by up to 20 percent compared to current single-aisle aircraft. The current demonstrator first flew in June 2019 and will continue testing this year.

In addition to the MAVERIC, Airbus also released design concepts for a future BWB passenger airliner. One drawback of such aircraft is that they're more like passenger ferries than coaches when it comes to seating, with most of the passengers seated deep inside and far from any windows. To cut down on claustrophobia, the renderings show an interior with not only a distinctly open and cheerful layout, but also wall-mounted infotainment displays that can turn into virtual windows to show the outside world.

"Airbus is leveraging emerging technologies to pioneer the future of flight," says Jean-Brice Dumont, EVP Engineering Airbus. "By testing disruptive aircraft configurations, Airbus is able to evaluate their potential as viable future products. Although there is no specific timeline 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."

Source: Airbus

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13 comments
Nobody
I'm not sure how fast, practical, efficient or safe this design is. Just going back to slower turboprops could save on fuel. As far as a flying model goes, I'm not sure this proves anything. I have seen models of Snoopy's dog house fly.
buzzclick
Twenty percent better fuel consumption is significant. Every single day there are thousands of aircraft in the skies, and any constructive improvement is definitely a good thing, even though it looks like a flying brick with wings. lol I'm confident the engineers at Airbus know what they're doing.
Mzungu_Mkubwa
@Nobody: more passengers stuffed on to the flights to optimize profit is the goal here. Cram 'em in there like sardines and rake in the bux.
Bob809
I wonder why they say 'there's more room for passengers?' Looking at one of the artists rendition pics, the majority of the seats are still too close together. Don't know how that is going to stop people feeling claustrophobic. Nice aircraft, although, I expect it will be a better cargo plane than passenger plane, what with the greedy need of airlines to fix max pax inside them.
Username
I look forward to the day when reverse acronyms are a thing of the past.
VincentWolf
Why not just design a three dimensional wing and fuselage that wraps 360 degrees that makes a flying saucer shape and then it can fly any direction it wants instantly by rotating jet engine thrust around centered vector. Then UFOs would be commonplace.
Jeff7
Excuse me, I need to go to the restroom. Twenty people get out of their seats.
Matt Fletcher
Nice plane, stupid idea. I remember looking at Boeing's design back in 1995. The reason this won't be implemented is simple, 1 word, airports. You would have to widen all the runways at any airport you plane to have these operate at and change the terminals to accommodate these planes. I don't see that happening anywhere especially since many international airports just went through upgrades and the average international airport that can accept 747s and A380s cost well into the billions of dollars to build. The other reason is liability, 1 of these goes down and per passenger liability (ppl) would destroy the airline and manufacturer. PPL in the USA last time I checked was at $10 million. Add all the other passenger risk factors and it's not worth the upgrade, unless you bribe enough government officials to make the change at taxpayers cost. Even then, it's still not worth the headache for a leading manufacturer already selling 2 proven planes to do the same job of this 1.
clay
Looks a lot like the Boeing blended wing demonstrator... a LOT like it. Look up the Boeing X-48. It is natural they would both gravitate to a similar design though. This concept, pressurization issues aside, has a huge interior volume and the lift area to match. Lots of steerage can be crammed into one of these babies! :-)
Wolf0579
I hope theygive due credit to NASA... they designed the original. This looks like a carbon copy.