European Antennas supply antennas to Cranfield Aerospace for Boeing X-48B ‘Blended Wing Body’ prototypes
European 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. Produced 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.