The X-48B Blended Wing Body research aircraft — a joint effort by Boeing, NASA's Fundamental Aeronautics Program and the Air Force Research Laboratory — took off for the first time a few weeks ago, on July 20, 2007, climbing to an altitude of 7,500 ft before landing approximately 31 min later. This plane — a prototype blended wing body (BWB) research aircraft — closely resembles a flying wing though it differs in having its wing blend into a flat, tailless fuselage. This allows the aircraft to gain additional left with less drag — which leads to reduced fuel usage at ideal cruise conditions.
Powered by 3 JetCat P200 turbojet engines, the remote piloted and composite-skinned 500-pound, 21-foot wingspan X-48B can fly up to 10,000 ft and 120 knots in a low-speed configuration and deliver a 27% reduction in fuel consumed per seat mile compared to a conventional aircraft. A pilot located in a ground control station can remotely pilot the vehicle with the help of a forward-looking camera on board by using conventional aircraft controls
NASA is working with Boeing and others to create an aircraft capable of producing significantly less noise due to propulsion integration options and of delivering additional carrying capacity and better aerodynamics for lower fuel consumption. Depending on the results of these initial flights, Boeing estimates that a military cargo version of the X-48B could be ready to go by 2015 - 2020.
Via ::Green Car Congress: X-48B Blended Wing Body Research Aircraft Makes First Flight; Potential for Fuel Savings (blog), :: NASA: X-48B Blended Wing Body Research Aircraft Makes First Flight (news release)