More people are flying than ever before, and the increase in air traffic has created a bottleneck at airports around the world. If you've flown lately, you've witnessed the congestion and flight delays. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) warns that if the industry doesn't make changes now, air travel will only get worse. In a recent report, the FAA projected a 63-percent increase in air passengers, from 733 million in 2000 to 1.2 billion in 2012.
Responding to the sharp increase in travellers, Boeing and NASA are developing a new kind of passenger airplane that will be able to carry 800 passengers per flight, which is about 160 more than a 747. The new blended-wing body, or "flying wing," design does away with the cigar-shaped fuselage and tail section that have been mainstays of modern passenger planes since they took off in the 1930s. The flying-wing design fuses together the wings and fuselage into one sleek vehicle that resembles a boomerang.
Image courtesy NASA
The blended-wing body concept may ease travel woes.
The flying-wing design is not revolutionary, but it has never before been used for passenger airplanes. In this article, you'll learn how researchers are transferring this once military-only design over to commercial airplanes, and what still needs to be done before you'll be able to board one of these strange-looking aircraft.