Flying Wings. A New Paradigm for Civil Aviation?
Keywords:flying wing, blended-wing-body, conceptual design, civil aviation.
AbstractOver the last 50 years, commercial aviation has been mainly based what is currently called the conventional layout, characterized by a slender fuselage mated to a high aspect ratio wing, with aft-tail planes and pod-mounted engines under the wing. However, it seems that this primary configuration is approaching an asymptote in its productivity and performance characteristics. One of the most promising configurations for the future is the flying wing in its distinct arrangements: blended-wing-body, C-wing, tail-less aircraft, etc. These layouts might provide significant fuel savings and, hence, a decrease in pollution. This configuration would also reduce noise in take-off and landing. All this explains the great deal of activity carried out by the aircraft industry and by numerous investigators to perform feasibility and conceptual design studies of this aircraft layout to gain better knowledge of its main characteristics: productivity, airport compatibility, passenger acceptance, internal architecture, emergency evacuation, etc. The present paper discusses the main features of flying wings, their advantages over conventional competitors, and some key operational issues, such as evacuation and vortex wake intensity.