Concept once considered by Soviets uses thicker aerofoil than previous designs and could suit very large aircraft

A radical flying-wing aircraft concept first investigated by the Soviet Union is to be studied under a €1.8 million ($2.2 million), three-year European Union Sixth Framework project starting from 1 October.

The flying wing will be thicker than existing designs such as blended-wing airliner concepts.

The US National Research Council’s committee on aeronautics research and technology has identified the thick blended wing as a possible design solution for very large aircraft. However, it may also have more immediate applications.

“Initially, such a thick wing aircraft could be a high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned air vehicle,” says project co-ordinator Sergei Chernyshenko, a professorial research fellow at the University of Southampton.

By late 2008 the researchers hope to have windtunnel-tested a cross-section of such a wing. The model will be adaptable with a removable section to test different geometries.


The geometries tested will investigate the best thick wing shape to draw in the air vortices that typically form over them, into an area that “traps” them. This is known as a vortex cell, which reduces vortices induced drag across the wing.

The project, called VortexCell 2050, is a specific targeted research project. These can be demonstration projects designed to prove the viability of new technologies that cannot be commercialised immediately.

VortexCell has eight partner organisations, including Russian battery manufacturer Rigel, Piaggio Aero Industries, Italian aerospace research agency CIRA, and the universities of Bordeaux, Eindhoven, Munich and Turin.


Source: Flight International