PICTURES: Northrop adapts B-2′s flying wing into airliner for NASA study

ERA Airliner 560.jpgNASA two years ago challenged three aircraft makers — Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman — to design a next-generation airliner. Boeing’s and Lockheed’s designs have been revealed before. Northrop’s concept finally was unveiled last week at the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics Sciences Meeting in Nashville.

It’s the first airliner optimized for radar cross section! (Well, that’s one way for airlines to get around slot restrictions at LHR.)

Seriously, NASA originally planned to analyze all three concepts and select a single design to build a 737-sized subscale test vehicle. That programme is now on hold due to funding cutbacks.

But Northrop is unlikely to walk away from the concept forever. Company officials emailed us another another image showing a concept for a next-generation military airlifter based on the same technology. In two decades, the USAF will likely need to start replacing the Lockheed Martin C-5A fleet. It’s a requirement already being eyed by Boeing with the subscale X-48 blended wing body, and by Lockheed with the Speed Agile concept. It’s now clear that Northrop plans to compete for the contract, if it ever comes.  

ERA Cargo Aircraft 560.jpg

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