The prototype of a new, more fuel-efficient, quieter aircraft design has been tested at the Nasa Langley Research Centre’s wind tunnel.

Boeing recently partnered with Nasa and the US Air Force Research Laboratory to explore and validate the structural, aerodynamic and operational advantages of an advanced aircraft design called the blended wing body (BWB).

Blended wing body designs are different from traditional tube-and-wing aircraft in that the tube and wings are blended for lower drag and better lift and they rely primarily on multiple control surfaces on the wing for stability and control.

The BWB prototype, X-48C is one of the two prototypes undergoing testing with the other, X-48B being flight tested at Nasa’s Dryden Flight Research Centre.

The models, made of advanced lightweight composite materials and weighing about 500lb each, are powered by turbojet engines with a flight speed of 138 miles an hour at an altitude of 10,000ft.

Other changes to the aircraft include reducing the number of engines from three to two and the installation of vertical fins to shield the engine noise.