Mark Hannant

Shell has long historic links with the aviation world and also maintains a watchful eye on future developments, which is obvious from the futuristic blended wing model on display at the Shell Aviation stand (Hall 3 Stand B6).Shell fuels powered Bleriot's first flight across the English Channel in 1909 and Amy Johnson's solo flight from England to Australia. The company, part of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of companies, assisted Frank Whittle in the development of the jet engine and worked with the Concorde design team to develop fuels and lubricants for supersonic travel.

Now it believes it has a role to play working with manufacturers as they develop radical new aircraft designs, such as the blended wing concept, known as BWB. Its 1/10 scale model, with a wingspan of 20ft, located on top of the stand's video tower.

Airbus Industrie has made it clear it sees the development of 'unconventional ideas' as a priority. It has been meeting with partners to look at the potential for flying-wing and multi-wing/multi-fuselage configurations. All agree these are long-term options.

The BWB concept, originally conceived by McDonnell Douglas, aims to maximise overall efficiency by integrating the engines, wings and body into a single lifting surface. It would allow a wide, double-deck passenger compartment that actually blends into the wing.

Preliminary analyses indicate that the BWB would outperform all conventional aircraft, carrying as many as 800 passengers over 7,000 miles, at a cruise speed of approximately 560mph.There would be significant environmental benefits, says Steve Dudley, Shell Aviation marketing manager. "The BWB concept would reduce fuel burn and harmful emissions per passenger mile by almost a third compared to today's aircraft. While the idea of 'flying wing' aircraft is not new, no commercial transport of this type has ever been created. The issues of high-speed aerodynamics, propulsion integration and non-circular pressurised cabins have yet to be addressed by today's aircraft designers.

"Shell Aviation is going to be the number one fuels & lubricants supplier to meet those challenges," he says.

Source: Flight Daily News