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Todays 'new concept' was designed over 60 years ago
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"The Saga of the Lifting Body"
by Ed Cantilli

They've been called everything from "flying wings" to "blended bodies"; everything from "visionary designs" to "flying flops." However, regardless of worldwide pronouncements from major airframe manufacturers about their most advanced lifting-body, flying-wing designs, the concept can be called everything but new.

The concept can also be called anything but controversy free.

Recent announcements have heralded variations on a unique and promising aircraft design, most recently characterized as the "blended-wing" or "blended-wing-body." In their most modern incarnation, these beautiful, futuristic designs share highly swept wings that blend into a relatively thick but airfoil-shaped fuselage that contributes lift. Blended-wing designs distribute the job of lifting the airplane across the entire top surface of the aircraft. There is no distinct fuselage per se.

In 1991, Airbus Industrie of Europe announced it was considering a "flying-wing" aircraft capable of carrying 700 passengers--one and a half times as many as the current biggest airliner, the Boeing 747-400. It was described as having "fuselage, wings, engines and tail blended into one single structure." Earlier, in 1989, Airbus had announced it was studying a family of "integrated aircraft which enclose their payloads within the minimum structural envelope." Besides offering more efficient use of airport ramp space, the design promised "a breakthrough in terms of weight, fuel efficiency, and manufacturing cost."

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