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IPFS News Link • Transportation: Air Travel

JetZero's ultra-efficient blended wing demonstrator cleared for takeoff

•, By Michael Irving

blended wing plane is exactly what it sounds like – the fuselage and the wings blend together into a sleek shape that's a cross between a regular airliner and a flying wing. The more aerodynamic design, in which basically everything is a lift surface, drastically boosts its fuel efficiency, with JetZero claiming its blended wing would use 50% less than a standard jet.

That extra fuel efficiency would be huge. It'd cut running costs substantially, and it could open up longer-range transcontinental hops. The benefits could be even more valuable if this concept was combined with clean aviation powertrains like battery-electric, hydrogen or ammonia-fuelled concepts, where range is still a key impediment to widespread adoption.

Oh, and as a bonus, the blended wing design gives you much more room for cargo and passengers, which is a win for anyone who's ever staggered stiff-legged off a long-haul flight. Or, more likely, it's a win for airline operators, who will be able to squeeze more malodorous armrest-hoggers and screaming babies into the plane with you.

Last year, JetZero announced that it was working with the US Air Force, NASA and the FAA to get its blended wing airliner into service by 2030, and in August it followed that up with the news of an Air Force contract to build a prototype by 2027.

Now, it's a step closer to those goals. The company announced via LinkedIn that the FAA has granted an Airworthiness Certificate to its smaller-scale demonstrator. Known as the Pathfinder, this model packs a 23-ft (7-m) wingspan, making it just 12.5% the scale of the full size aircraft.

"Now let's go fly!" The post finishes, so hopefully it won't be too long before we see some footage of this thing in the sky. And given the flurry of activity lately from Airbus to Zeroavia and everyone in between, maybe the blended wing's time has finally come and we'll be enjoying the extra legroom within a decade.

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