There's a great deal of interest in blended wing-bodies (BWB) all of a sudden. Yesterday the Silent Aircraft Initiative people unveiled a chunk of their work, which we wrote about. There is plenty of other work going on, such as this at Cranfield University. And Boeing will fly the X-48B model early next year.
I suppose there are two broad motivators behind all this: the potential for carrying very large passenger loads economically, and other environmental issues, especially noise. There are compelling reasons why this really could become reality.
But here's a paradox. The main objection that is raised to the idea just about wherever it is discussed, here for example, is the increased likelihood of passenger airsickness mainly owing to a) their distance from the longitudinal axis b) the absence of windows for many of them. The paradox is that, as far as I can see, in all the public domain literature on the subject (and there is a lot) that issue is scarcely or never mentioned. I don't know if that's because the researchers have already concluded that it's a non-issue, or perhaps they can't do any useful research without a full-size aircraft.
Anyway, if it is a problem then it does seem extremely difficult to fix it - a potential showstopper. But I wonder about the logic of the argument. Hardly anyone ever seems to be airsick these days, which I suspect (just my guess) is mainly down to improved ride, particularly on fly-by-wire types. That's even though plenty of passengers are yards away from a window, and in any case there is often no visible horizon.
On a BWB the big differences are that a) some people have no window at all and b) perhaps more important, many will be a long way from the centreline of the aircraft and so subject to much greater vertical movement than usual during turns.
Now if this really does cause widespread airsickness than that is a big problem and it's not obvious what the solution is. But will it? It seems to me that it's only as the aircraft is actually rolling into the turn that the situation is much different from now - once you're established in the turn then it doesn't matter how wide the aircraft is or where you're sitting. And the general ride will be incredibly smooth.
(I've got a personal obsession with windows - but it's nothing to do with airsickness and I'll save it for another post.) If you've got thoughts on the BWB issue leave a comment.