More recently, Aerospatiale of France and Airbus have announced a proposed
"flying-wing" design for a giant transport airliner carrying
approximately 1,000 passengers that, if pursued, could be operational by
the year 2010. Last year, McDonnell-Douglas announced its proposed blended-wing-body
(BWB) design for a large airliner that would economically ferry approximately
800 passengers over great distances (see sidebar).
Large U.S. aerospace companies, and NASA, have recognized that some
variation on a large blended-wing (or related "spanloading")
design may be the best means to economically transport 500 to 1,000 passengers
over long distances. Such aircraft could help meet expected growth in demand
(it is estimated to triple by 2015).
On a much smaller scale, a homebuilt lifting-body aircraft called the
Facetmobile has demonstrated the feasibility of a relatively low-cost recreational
design that melds fuselage and wing. For a light aircraft, the Facetmobile
is said to offer a marked advance in safety and cargo-carrying capacity.
It seems, then, that at the extremes of cost, size, speed and payload capacity,
blended-wing designs cleverly combine a package of benefits that could
revolutionize the look of aviation.