Airbus has unveiled a futuristic airplane design which it claims could cut carbon emissions by 20 per cent. The game-changing “blended wing body” design could generate up to 20% fuel savings and significantly improve the passenger experience thanks to its exceptionally spacious cabin layout.
The conventional tube-and-wing configuration with wing-mounted engines is the iconic aircraft shape that has captured the imagination of aviation enthusiasts for decades. But someday soon, passengers may find themselves traveling in an aircraft that looks nothing like the ones seen on today’s runways.
This is the concept behind Maveric, an aircraft demonstrator unveiled by Airbus at Singapore Air Show 2020. The innovative design—known as a “blended wing body”—is a complete departure from traditional aircraft architecture thanks to a wide cabin layout that completely breaks the mold of conventional single-aisle aircraft. In fact, the design is so radical, some engineers did not believe in its potential at first.
At 2 meters long and 3 meters wide, Maveric is a small-scale, remote-controlled aircraft demonstrator. The development of demonstrators like Maveric enables Airbus to accelerate understanding of new aircraft configurations and to mature the technology necessary to fly such a radically different aircraft.
In fact, the Maveric demonstrator has been built with the same precision as other Airbus aircraft. For example, wind tunnel testing to verify MAVERIC’s aerodynamic characteristics was conducted—like all other Airbus aircraft—at Airbus’ Filton site in the UK. These types of tests help to better identify and analyze technical challenges.
One specific challenge was to assess the low-speed and stall dynamics. Future testing will analyze aspects such as MAVERIC’s handling qualities, flight control, multi-objective control surfaces and modularity.
For Airbus, the demonstrator’s potential to deliver real environmental performance benefits is of significant interest: approximately 20% less fuel burn compared to current single-aisle models with the same engine. The spacious configuration also opens up the design space, enabling the possible integration of various other types of propulsion systems. In addition, noise is expected to be significantly reduced thanks to a “shielded” engine that is mounted above the central body.
And, if commercialized, a Maveric-inspired aircraft could significantly improve the passenger experience. A blended wing body design provides an exceptionally comfortable cabin layout, enabling passengers to benefit from additional legroom and larger aisles for more personal comfort.