Airbus shies away from flying wing giant

Airbus Industrie, the European aircraft manufacturer, said yesterday that it had looked at developing a giant 800-seat "flying wing" aircraft but abandoned the concept because the technological problems were too daunting.

The consortium was commenting after McDonnell Douglas of the US, which is being taken over by Boeing, said it was preparing to test fly an unmanned model of its own blended wing body (BWB) design. If successful, McDonnell and the US space agency Nasa plan to spend $100m (pounds 61m) building two quarter- size versions of the revolutionary aircraft.

The blended wing aircraft could carry twice as many passengers as the Boeing 747 jumbo jet but is said to use 30 per cent less fuel than the proposed next generation of 550-1,000-seat super jumbos.

An Airbus spokesman said: "It is true that on paper the blended wing design has advantages but it also has significant drawbacks. The problems associated with it are huge. How would you pressurise a vessel of that size, how would passengers board it and how would they be evacuated? There is also the difficulty of controlling the aircraft because of its shape. It would require very sophisticated fly-by-wire technology because the design is aerodynamically unstable."

Airbus also doubted that the flying wing design - which has a span of nearly 90 metres - would fit into any of the world's airports without major modifications to their layout.

The consortium is instead pressing ahead with the development of its own conventionally-designed super jumbo, the A3XX, which would seat 555- 650 passengers and cost at least $8bn to develop.

Until this week Boeing was also developing its own super jumbo, the 550 seat 747-600X, but it shelved the project claiming the market was too small.

Boeing yesterday denied that it had abandoned the project to concentrate instead on the McDonnell Douglas design. A spokesman repeated that the decision had been taken because there was insufficient market demand to justify the $7bn development costs.

Although Airbus has rejected the design, one of its partners, Aerospatiale of France, has spent four years developing a single wing aircraft capable of seating up to 1,000 passengers on two decks. To make up for the lack of windows, cameras on the wing would send back pictures of the outside to be displayed on giant screens.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Johnny Depp is perhaps best known for his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean
peopleBut how did he break it?
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Walker and Vin Diesel in Fast and Furious 5
film
Sport
Lewis Hamilton secured his second straight pole of the season
f1Vettel beats Rosberg into third after thunderstorm delays qualifying
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss