“Flying wings” have been around since the 1930s, without ever making it into large-scale production.
But Airbus says alterations worked out using modern software and new materials, and repositioning the engines, have all made significant changes to the lift and drag forces.
The other question has always been whether they will be acceptable to passengers.
Instead of having seats along the length of the aircraft, the Airbus “Maveric” is designed to have seats across the width.
It means very few passengers will have windows – or even be able to see one.
An Airbus spokesman told Connexion: “We pass under the English Channel in a train without being able to see out, and we take lifts without windows. I do not know if passengers are ready, but this is also a key part of the research we are doing. We are studying the inside of the cabin: the impact for passengers as much as the form of the aeroplane.”
The company said it had come up with an exceptionally comfortable cabin layout, with more leg room and larger aisles, compared to conventional aircraft. It envisages it as a replacement for the A320 and Boeing 737, used by most airlines for flights between the UK and France.
Adrien Bérard, co-leader of the project, said many people had doubted that anything significant would come from it: “We had to prove them wrong by showing we could deliver a very sound basis for future aircraft configuration.”
The design was tested in a wind tunnel, before a 2m x 3m radio-controlled model filled with measuring equipment was built. It has been flying since last June.
Airbus said there was no fixed date for when a full-scale prototype might take to the air.
“Realistically, if the project is given the go-ahead because airlines are interested, getting the green-light from regulatory authorities, building the aeroplane and getting it ready for flight will not happen before 2030,” the spokesman said.
Mr Bérard said he hoped the Maveric would be developed: “We understand that society expects more in terms of improving the environmental performance of aircraft.
“Maveric’s blended wing-body configuration is a potential game-changer in this respect, and we are keen to push the technology to the limit.”