Lockheed, NASA Hybrid Wing Body Airlifter Tests Validate Predicted Performance

Hybrid is a word that you are going to see a lot of in the years to come, especially when we talk about military transport aircraft to pave the way for a more efficient way of reshaping aircraft designs. The decision comes from the high fuel costs which tend to eat into budgets, ultimately reducing them by a substantial amount. Therefore the necessary need to cut fuel bills is on top of the agenda, starting with the US Air Force looking at a way they can cut fuel costs for the long-term.

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The only real issue with this move is that aircraft design needs to change in order to make these significant reductions in the amount of fuel that is currently being used. However, the new Hybrid Wing Body could be the answer that has been sitting right around the corner as the new design is said to be 30% more efficient than current standard designs.

The Concept for Hybrid Wing Body

The company behind the concept, Lockheed Martin is currently studying ways that technology can help in achieving as much as a 90% fuel reduction in aircrafts, and from this study the Hybrid Wing Body is the result that offers the maximum amount of potential.

It doesn’t just stop there however as more studies and further refinements are looking to be made to improve both structural efficiency as well as better aerodynamics.

The plane that sports the HWB (Hybrid Wing Body) will be designed in such a manner that it can carry over 220,000 lb of payload and take off in less than 6,500 feet. Because of the new design, the HWB is expected to burn around 70% less fuel than the competition, particularly the Boeing C-17.

How can it burn 70% less? It simply comes down to the fact that the design is lightweight, the engines are more modern and aerodynamics will have a major part to play.

The Strategy for Hybrid Wing Body

Many of the older generations of aircraft carry 1980’s styled design, which nowadays tends to hamper the efficiency of the planes. Lockheed claims that the new hybrid designs will be at least 65% more aerodynamic that the Lockheed C-17, which cannot take-off or land in such a short space like the newly designed plane can.

The new Hybrid plane is also some 30% more efficient than the Lockheed C-5, and 5% more aerodynamically efficient compared to the Boeing 787, so there is a lot of potential behind this new design initiative.

From a structural point of view the new designs and materials will make the Hybrid plane much lighter than conventional designs. Lockheed is looking at reducing the weight of the plane by approximately 18%, which mainly comes from a smaller fuselage compared to older models, as well as a new engine configuration and location.

The circular body, pressurized fuselage and blended fore body makes the HWB concept lighter than any other plane in its category which helps towards lowering fuel costs.