The X-48B has now exceeded the record for the number of flights performed by an X-Plane. The X-Planes are a series of experimental United States aircraft (and some rockets) used for testing of new technologies and usually kept highly secret during development. The first of these, the Bell X-1, became well-known as the first plane to break the sound barrier which it achieved in 1947, piloted by General Chuck Yeager.
The previous record of 40 flights was held by the X-45 aircraft. At the time of writing, the X-48B LSV2 air vehicle is being prepared for its 50th flight with a continuing flight test programme in planning. The second airframe, LSV1, has now also completed 250 hours of full-scale wind tunnel tests.
Boeing Phantom Works’ subscale Blended Wing Body technology demonstration aircraft began its initial flight tests from NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, California in the summer of 2007. The 8.5% dynamically scaled unmanned aircraft, designated the X-48B by the Air Force, is designed to mimic the aerodynamic and flight characteristics of a full-scale large cargo transport aircraft with the same blended wing body shape. The initial flight tests focused on evaluation of the X-48B’s low-speed flight characteristics and handling qualities. About 35 flights were originally planned to gather data in these low-speed flight regimes.