Developed by Boeing with participation from NASA and built in England by Cranfield Aerospace Ltd, the X-48B was given its first flight tests yesterday, which it seems to have passed. The 500 pound "flying wing", which sports a 21 foot wingspan, was flown remotely by a pilot on the ground. The machine was built to 8.5 percent scale, and is made from composites. The flight was accomplished with three turbojet engines.

Why is this important? I'll let NASA explain the benefits: "increased volume for carrying capacity, efficient aerodynamics for reduced fuel burn and possibly significant reductions in noise due to propulsion integration options."

So, for all of our readers out there who are tired of hearing about airplanes designed to cut fuel consumption which are completely conceptual, here is a real one, albeit unmanned. If flights continue to go as planned, though, it would not be too surprising to see planes like this overhead.

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[Source: NASA]



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