From Star Wars to the brain of Elon Musk, many have speculated on how the future of air travel may look. Airbus just added a slightly more tangible addition. Blending the need for speed with the need for fuel efficiency, Airbus has lifted the lid on ‘Maveric’, the formerly secret test concept aircraft with a “blended wing” design.
A “blended wing” design brings plenty of challenges, but it also brings fantastic possibilities. An aircraft where the wings are blended into the fuselage would redefine “wide body” aircraft, with whisper quiet engines above the plane and super wide cabin dimensions.
How wide? Think business and first class next to economy class, not in front or behind. That brings an entirely new era of seat and atmosphere design, perhaps even with room for long forgotten social spaces and friendly features.
Could Airbus create a “glass bottom” or “glass roof” effect for the new aircraft? Renderings seem to say yes. The birth of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350 ushered in a new era of aircraft design, trading aluminum for stronger composite materials, and there’s simply no reason the same advancements couldn’t become reality with transparent surfaces as well. Fear not, light sleepers – they’ll surely be dimmable.
Blended wing designs bring technical challenges in terms of maneuverability and stability, but Airbus believes the time is now. Significant progress has been made in weight reduction and aircraft control, making this once infeasible design a genuine prospect. There’s just one more catch – it probably won’t be flying for another 7 years, at best.
Airbus, speaking at the Singapore Air Show proclaimed that tests will likely run through 2025, so while this won’t be flying any time soon, it’s far more than just a futuristic concept unlikely to see the light of day. Who knows, by then it might even be powered by the light of day.