Antennas to Cranfield Aerospace for Boeing X-48B Prototypes
– Case Study Update
June 9, 2010 - Cobham Antenna Systems - The X-48B is the latest experimental X-Plane and is a joint venture
between NASA, US Air Force Research Laboratory and The Boeing Company. The vehicle was on view at a recent open
day at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Centre at Edwards Air Force Base, USA.
The X-48B is an unmanned airborne scale model BWB (Blended Wing Body) prototype aircraft. The BWB design has
the efficiency of a flying wing which has proved to be fuel-efficient at high altitude speeds. The vehicle was
built to validate the structural, aerodynamic and operational advantages of the BWB concept which could allow
increased carrying capacity, reduced fuel burn and possibly noise reduction.
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 vehicles are 8.5% scale models with a
wingspan of 6.4 metres and maximum take off mass of 230kgs.
After years of work, the X-48B’s maiden flight
was in July 2007. After 80 flights, the Boeing X-48B is demonstrating that the BWB can be designed to overcome
the challenges of low speed flight.
These prototype vehicles were built by Cranfield Aerospace, who
provided two complete unmanned airborne vehicles and a ground control station to Boeing in accordance with
requirements and specifications supplied by Boeing Research & Technology, Boeing’s advanced R&D unit.
Cobham Antenna Systems, Microwave Antennas supplied blade antennas to Cranfield Aerospace for use on the X-48B
prototypes. The antennas cover different frequency bands and are part of the telecommand, telemetry, video and
audio systems. These antennas met the specification in that the antennas should not affect aerodynamics, and
would function whilst the experimental aircraft was being trialed in flight.
The three models of blade
antenna supplied have omni-directional coverage, each weigh less than 20 grams, are robust and measure 105x30mm
(4.1x1.2 inches) and are 2.4mm (0.09inches) thin.
It was critical to have optimized signal reception at a
fixed ground location, irrespective of the aircraft’s location and orientation. The attributes of Cobham Antenna
Systems, Microwave Antennas blade antennas are proven having been used on other demanding applications including
UAVs, World Rally Championship and Grand Prix race cars.
Cobham Antenna Systems
Cobham Antenna Systems (Microwave Antennas), formerly known as European
Antennas, is a British company specialising in the design, development and manufacture of antennas from 100MHz to
40GHz. Antenna development projects are undertaken for customers. All design, production and administration is
carried out at a single, dedicated, UK facility. The company has ISO 9001 certification. Cobham
Cobham products and services have been at the heart of military and civil systems for 75 years,
keeping people safe, improving communications, and enhancing the capability of land, sea, air and space
platforms. The company has four divisions employing more than 12,000 people on five continents, with customers
and partners in over 100 countries and annual revenue of more than £1.4bn/$2.1 billion
Cobham Antenna Systems, Microwave Antennas
House, Little Green
Cheveley, Newmarket Suffolk CB8 9RG, UK
T: +44 (0)1638 732152
F: +44 (0)1638 731999