Blended-wings have been a dream of commercial aviation for 100 years. Now, that dream could be coming true.
CONCEPTS FOR blended-wing-body aircraft date back to 1918, with the experimental bomber aircraft the Stout Batwing of which only a handful were produced. Whilst the aerodynamic benefits over standard jet designs are uncontroversial, only a select few experimental and military aircraft have adopted the blended-wing design.
One Southern Californian aircraft manufacturer is looking to bring the design to the public.
DZYNE Technologies is an aircraft-design studio established in 2012. Up until now, the company has designed drone, VTOL and UAV concepts. Now the company is looking to branch out to the business and commercial-jet world.
In October 2018, DZYNE revealed a unique blended-wing jet design at our Revolution.Aero conference in San Francisco. The concept design promises a 30% reduction in fuel consumption over a traditional jet design – meaning less expensive, quieter and greener fares.
Right now, DZYNE has two separate layouts, the business jet configuration (the Ascent) and the commercial aircraft configuration (the Ascent 1000). Using the same airframe, it can fulfil narrow-body commercial jet and the business jet requirements with projected specifications comparable to some of the best aircraft in these markets.
Early specifications are comparable to the Bombardier Global G650, promising a top speed of Mach 0.90, a range of 7,500nm, seating for 18 passengers and a payload of under 100,000lbs. But it also offers 1,000 square feet of floor space with two dining areas and full-scale showers and bathrooms.
The commercial variant fills the niche of a narrow-body airliner. It seats 100 passengers in standard class and 12 in a premium class. DZYNE also has plans for a variant that can offer up to 200 passengers at full capacity.
DZYNE’s CEO Mark Page describes the layout as “not a hallway, but a home.”
Mark Page has a history with blended-wing aircraft. He worked with Swift engineering in 2007 to design the Eclipse Concept Jet for Eclipse Aviation. He also worked on modern blendedwing concepts at McDonnell Douglas with colleagues Dr Robert Liebeck and Blaine Rawdon. But when McDonnell Douglas was bought by Boeing, the project was shelved. Since then, NASA has started investing heavily in the technology.
Big-name OEMs appear to be unwilling to bet on these technologies while the standard jet market is still lucrative. With the amount of testing, safety concerns and money it takes to develop an entirely new form of aircraft, it makes sense why Airbus and Boeing would not want to be the first to jump into the blended-wing passenger jet market.
DZYNE has two separate layouts, the business-jet configuration (the Ascent) and the commercial aircraft configuration (the Ascent 1000). Using the same airframe, it can fulfil narrow-body commercial jet and the business jet requirements with projected specifications.
“We see this unspent technology war chest of blended wing technology as an immense opportunity. We just want to get this technology into the public and the airlines.” – said Mr Page.
To get this project off the ground, DZYNE will need to build a partnership with one or more OEMs. Page said:
“This plane will definitely be built by a major OEM. Our role is to build the critical mass, provide intellectual property, and bring the knowledge of past BWB development to the OEM. To that end, we are building a team of experts on BWB to expand our current team.”
Blended Wing Benefits
Blended-wing bodies (BWB) allow the entire body of the aircraft to generate lift which helps reduce size and drag of the wings when compared to traditional aircraft designs. According to audio simulations conducted by NASA, blendedwing also offers a significant reduction in noise levels – with an estimated 15dB reduction on a Boeing 777 aircraft should it feature a blended-wing body.
The design also offers more space for passengers, due to a greater cabin width, as well as higher ceilings than a conventional business jet or narrow-body commercial aircraft. The aircraft concept promises the speed, range and airport access of a BizJet but with the floor-space of a Bizliner.
“It does not make sense for current manufacturers to design blended-wing aircraft. They have great business designing tube and wing aircraft but there is demand. We reached out face-to-face with VVIPs and showed them our design and got very positive feedback – especially in regard to the triple-sized floor space.”
The Ascent is still in the concept stage and DZYNE is seeking financing. Engine and crew specifications are unknown and the cost to bring the aircraft to market is up in the air.
Mr Page estimates that the final price of the aircraft will be $99 million. DZYNE also expects the aircraft to fulfil the requirements of 70% of the bizjet and bizliner markets and has projected approximately 220 sales across 15 years with a total profit of $4 billion. Total aircraft sales are estimated at $22 billion.
At this stage, DZYNE is seeking investment, with Mr Page saying: “We are seeking investment to get us halfway to what is called “Preliminary Design Review” or PDR. The final OEM who builds the airplane will need room to make it their airplane with their design knowledge and innovations."
“The OEM will lead the completion of the PDR. In total we need $100 million to achieve this goal. That will complete the foundational design work and the first round of wind-tunnel tests. In the near term, we are seeking $10 million to staff BWAI and secure the final round of investment."