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Boeing completes first flight test of advanced cargo plane

Boeing completes first flight test of advanced cargo plane

Chicago-based aviation giant Boeing Co. said Wednesday it has completed the first test flight of a futuristic aircraft that may well see its first use as a military cargo hauler by 2020.

   The blended-wing-body research aircraft, designated the X-48B, incorporates the wings into the planes body reminiscent of Jack Northrop's flying wings of the late 1940s and early 1950s.

   The new BWB design creates a much larger fuselage area, allowing for greater passengers or cargo capacity.

   Boeing's flight test of the new design used an unmanned model with a wingspan of about 20 feet and weighing nearly 450 pounds. The test flight, which lasted for 30 minutes and took the model to an altitude of nearly 7,500 feet, was conducted last week at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center located at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

   Though originally designed as a passenger plane, the BWB design will likely see its first use as a military cargo plane. The design would sit many passengers away from the limited windows on the plane and this problem still needs to be overcome before the passenger version could become a reality.

   Boeing officials said last month that with continued government funding, a BWB military cargo version could be flying sometime between 2015 and 2020.

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