Radical bi-directional flying wing design gets NASA funding

A team that has created a supersonic jet design resembling a flying shuriken has been awarded a $100,000 grant from NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program to continue development of the aircraft. Aside from looking suitably futuristic, the concept plane’s four-pointed star design serves a practical purpose. By rotating in mid air, the plane can transition between broad-wing subsonic and shorter wingspan supersonic configurations…

“No matter how fast a supersonic plane can fly, it needs to take off and land at very low speed, which severely hurts the high-speed supersonic performance for a conventional airplane,” said Ge-Chen Zha, a professor in the University of Miami’s College of Engineering and principal investigator of the project. “The SBiDir-FW removes this performance conflict by rotating the airplane to fly in two different directions at subsonic and supersonic. Such rotation enables the SBiDir-FW to achieve superior performance at both supersonic and subsonic speeds…”

The aircraft would rotate into supersonic configuration by folding winglets attached to the end of the wings in subsonic configuration. Folding them up again would see the aircraft rotate back again to subsonic orientation once again. The engine pod on the back of the aircraft would also be rotated when switching modes…

“I am hoping to develop an environmentally friendly and economically viable airplane for supersonic civil transport in the next 20 to 30 years,” said Zha. “Imagine flying from New York to Tokyo in four hours instead of 15 hours.”

Yup. I can imagine all of that. Building an airplane that can do that will take many millions of dollars – but, then, this may end up being the essential shape that makes it possible.

6 thoughts on “Radical bi-directional flying wing design gets NASA funding

  1. alex says:

    Since concorde is gonne, there is a big gap to fill for the flight/technology enthousiasts. Can’t wait to see such a plane in the sky !

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