Alongside immediate plans on the A3XX, Airbus Industrie and its partners are looking at configurations that could lead to the introduction of radical airliner designs further into the 21st Century. The first of a series of meetings to consider future concepts took place in November at Airbus Toulouse headquarters.

Airbus technical director Alain Garcia says that possibilities being examined, include "unconventional ideas" such as flying-wing and multi-wing/multi-fuselage configurations. Airbus will work to co-ordinate input from its partners, Aerospatiale Matra, British Aerospace, CASA, DaimlerChrysler Aerospace and respective national research bodies.

Aerospatiale Matra has published images of its flying-wing concept, and Airbus is looking at the concept as a potential solution for future large, long range airliners. The design would offer a 30% improvement in aerodynamic efficiency and operating costs, and would be built from aluminium/composite materials.

Potential problems include the design of the passenger cabin, the integration of engines, flight controls and pressurisation.

Although the flying wing was once a potential A3XX design, it is now seen as at least 20 years from becoming a reality.

Source: Flight International