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There have been blended-wing body (BWB) aircraft designs test-flown as models in recent years, but the ‘real thing’ is getting a step closer to reality than ever before. That is thanks to the US Air Force, which awarded $235 million in funding to US start-up JetZero to build a full-scale demonstrator that should fly in 2027. This sounds ambitious but, if successful, could mean a breakthrough for the blended-wing body.

The Defense Innovation Unit of the Department of Defense and the US Air Force announced the selection on Wednesday, having carefully evaluated blended-wing-body concepts and their benefits. From their aerodynamic shape, a BWB promises a 30 to 50 percent reduction in fuel burn over a conventional aircraft design while offering more payload capability and ample space for passengers. NASA has spent some $1.0 billion on BWB research over the past three decades.


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