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Blended Wing Body Test
in the 40x80 Wind Tunnel

by Dale Satran

Summer 2001

A revolutionary vehicle design where the wing and fuselage are blended together provides significant performance benefits over traditional commercial transports. Due to the blending, the vehicle is basically a flying wing.

Total vehicle weight is reduced and aerodynamic performance is enhanced by this new design but the stability and control of the aircraft is challenging. In other words it will get better gas mileage but it might be more difficult to fly. To evaluate the total configuration, a 14.2% scale vehicle (does this mean smaller or larger?) is being designed as a remotely piloted vehicle. Before the vehicle is flight tested, the vehicle will be mounted in the 40x80 Wind Tunnel. It will save money to use the same model in the wind tunnel and for flight testing.

The vehicle will have three engines each capable of producing 200 pounds of thrust. All control surfaces on the vehicle will be remotely controlled by the flight computer as directed by the wind tunnel data acquisition computer. Do you think that would be a fun computer program to write?

Since the vehicle will be a flight vehicle, there are numerous challenges and restrictions on the modifications that can be made to the vehicle for mounting the vehicle into the wind tunnel. Every time you do something like use the same model for two purposes you make some trade offs, on the one hand it saves some money but now it will complicate how we mount the model in the tunnel.


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