Antennas Ltd has supplied blade antennas
to Cranfield Aerospace for use on the Boeing
X-48B Blended Wing Body (BWB) prototypes.
Cranfield Aerospace built and provided two
complete uninhabited airborne vehicles and a
ground control station to Boeing in accordance
with requirements and specifications supplied by
Phantom Works, Boeing's advanced R&D unit.
The Boeing/NASA/U.S. Air Force Research
Laboratory/Cranfield Aerospace team will
soon begin ground testing its concept in
preparation for flight testing in early
2007, following earlier successful wind
tunnel testing carried out at NASA Langley.
to validate the structural, aerodynamic and
operational advantages of the BWB concept,
the air vehicles are 8.5% scale models with
a wingspan of 6.4 metres and maximum take
off mass of 230kgs. Flight characteristics
have been scaled to extrapolate full-scale
dynamic behaviour in order to learn more
about the BWB's low speed flight control
characteristics, particularly during
take-off and landing.
The three models of blade antenna supplied to
Cranfield Aerospace by European Antennas have
omni-directional radiation pattern coverage.
Weighing less than 20 grams, they are robust and
weatherproof and measure 105x30mm (4.1x1.2
inches) and are 2.4mm (0.09inches) thin. Each
antenna covers a different frequency band and
form part of the telecommand, telemetry, video
and audio reception systems.
These antennas met the specification from
Cranfield Aerospace in that the antennas should
be light and small so that aerodynamics would
not be affected, and would function whilst the
experimental aircraft was being trialled in
flight. It was critical to have 360 degree
horizontal coverage with maximum elevation
pattern for optimized signal reception at a
fixed ground location irrespective of the
aircraft's location and orientation. The
attributes of European Antennas' blade antennas
are well proven as they have previously been
used on diverse and demanding applications
including WRC and Grand Prix race cars and UAVs.
European Antennas was able to provide dummy
units for aerodynamic testing within 3 weeks and
final flight units within 8 weeks in order to
meet critical deadlines for Cranfield Aerospace.