Tech

August 7, 2012

Transformed X-48C flies successfully

The remotely piloted X-48C aircraft successfully flew for the first time Aug. 7 at Edwards Air Force Base in California’s Mojave Desert.

The aircraft, designed by Boeing and built by Cranfield Aerospace Limited of the United Kingdom, is flying again in partnership with NASA.

The new X-48C model, which was formerly the X-48B Blended Wing Body aircraft, was modified to evaluate the low-speed stability and control of a low-noise version of a notional, future Hybrid Wing Body aircraft design. The HWB design stems from concept studies being conducted by NASA’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation project of future potential aircraft designs 20 years from now.

“We are thrilled to get back in the air to start collecting data in this low-noise configuration,” said Heather Maliska, X-48C project manager at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center. “Our dedicated team has worked hard to get the X-48C off the ground for its first flight and we are excited learning about the stability and control characteristics of this low-noise configuration of the blended wing body.”

Primary changes to the C model from the B model, which flew 92 flights at Dryden between 2007 and 2010, were geared to transforming it to an airframe noise-shielding configuration. External modifications included relocating the wingtip winglets inboard next to the engines, effectively turning them into twin tails. The aft deck of the aircraft was extended about 2 feet to the rear. Finally, the project team replaced the X-48B’s three 50-pound thrust jet engines with two 89-pound thrust engines.

Because handling qualities of the X-48C will be different from those of the X-48B, the project team developed flight control system software modifications, including flight control limiters to keep the airplane flying within a safe flight envelope. This will enable a stronger and safer prototype flight control system suitable for future full-scale commercial hybrid or blended wing aircraft.

“We are very pleased to begin flight tests of the X-48C,” said Mike Kisska, Boeing X-48C project manager. “Working with NASA, we’ve successfully passed another milestone in our work to explore and validate the aerodynamic characteristics and efficiencies of the blended wing body concept.”

Additionally, the upcoming flight experiments with the X-48C will help researchers further develop methods to validate the design’s aerodynamics and control laws, including a goal of reducing aerodynamic drag through engine yaw control tests.

During the planned second block of flight testing this fall, NASA will test engine yaw control software incorporated in the X-48C’s flight computer. This research will use asymmetric engine thrust to create yaw, or nose left or right movements, for trim and for relatively slow maneuvers.

NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate and Boeing are funding the X-48 technology demonstration research effort, which supports NASA’s goals of reduced fuel burn, emissions and noise.

The X-48C retains most dimensions of the B model, with a wingspan just longer than 20 feet, and a weight of about 500 pounds. The aircraft has an estimated top speed of about 140 mph, and a maximum altitude of 10,000 feet.

The Air Force Research Laboratory, Dayton, Ohio, also is a member of the project team.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Sparks fly as NASA pushes limits of 3-D printing technology

NASA has successfully tested the most complex rocket engine parts ever designed by the agency and printed with additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, on a test stand at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. NASA engineers pushed the limits of technology by designing a rocket engine injector – a highly complex part that...
 
 
NASA photograph by David Alexander

NASA MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft completes visual, radar mission in Hawaii

NASA photograph “Ikhana,” NASA’s MQ-9 remotely piloted research aircraft, carries a maritime radar in a specialized centerline pod during a flight to check out systems prior to the aircraft’s deployment ...
 
 
NASA photograph by Tom Tschida

NASA Armstrong’s space shuttle Mate-Demate Device coming down

NASA photograph by Tom Tschida The space shuttle Mate-Demate Device that stood as an iconic symbol of NASA’s now-concluded Space Shuttle Program at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center for 38 years is being dismantled af...
 

 

NASA awards research facilities, engineering support services contract

NASA has awarded a contract for research facilities and engineering support services to InuTeq, LLC of Greenbelt, Maryland, in support of the Mission Information and Test Systems Directorate at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif. This cost-plus-award-fee contract covers a one-year base period beginning Nov. 1, 2014 and four one-year options, and is valued...
 
 

NASA picks top Earth data challenge ideas, opens call for climate apps

NASA has selected four ideas from the public for innovative uses of climate projections and Earth-observing satellite data. The agency also has announced a follow-on challenge with awards of $50,000 to build climate applications based on OpenNEX data on the Amazon cloud computing platform. Both challenges use the Open NASA Earth Exchange, or OpenNEX, a...
 
 
nasa-flying-lab

NASA’s flying laboratories study our world

Throughout the remainder of 2014, NASA is flying a series of airborne research campaigns from the North Pole to the South Pole and many points in between ñ to take a closer look at U.S. air quality, hurricanes in the Atlantic ...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>