Airbus has begun testing a ‘blended wing body’ aircraft which differs from a traditional, detached wing design.
Unveiled at the Singapore Air Show this week, Airbus describes the concept as a “giant flying wing”, with no distinct fuselage.
It would allow aircraft to save up to 20 per cent on fuel while also increasing cabin space and potentially reducing cabin noise.
After almost three years of research, Airbus completed a successful test flight using a 2m by 3m demonstrator in June 2019.
Airbus has called the demonstrator ‘MAVERIC’ (Model Aircraft for Validation and Experimentation of Robust Innovative Control).
Adrien Bérard, joint head of the programme, said: “Initially, many dismissed the MAVERIC project as merely a ‘hobby,’ or, in other words, a project Airbus wouldn’t learn very much from.”
According to Bérard, “We had to prove them wrong by showing that we could deliver a very sound basis for future aircraft configuration.”
The small demonstrator has been put through a barrage of rigorous tests, as its larger counterparts would. Further testing will take place to see how it performs in various conditions.
Other innovative aircraft designs are currently being tested, such as KLM and its ‘Flying-V’, which also cites fuel efficiency as a top priority.
Airbus says it will continue efforts to design planes that take environmental considerations in mind.
“At Airbus, we understand society expects more from us in terms of improving the environmental performance of our aircraft,” said Bérard.
“MAVERIC’s blended wing body configuration is a potential game-changer in this respect, and we’re keen to push the technology to the limit.”