European Antennas Ltd. has supplied blade antennas to Cranfield Aerospace for use on the Boeing X-48B Blended Wing Body (BWB) prototypes. As a result, the Boeing/NASA/US Air Force Research Laboratory/Cranfield Aerospace team will soon begin ground testing its concept in preparation for flight testing, 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 prototype air vehicles are 8.5 percent scale models with a wingspan of 6.4 m and maximum take off mass of 230 kg. Flight characteristics have been scaled to extrapolate full-scale dynamic behavior 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 by European Antennas have omni-directional radiation pattern coverage. Weighing less than 20 g, they are robust and weatherproof and measure 105 x 30 mm and are 2.4 mm thick. Each antenna covers a different frequency band and forms part of the telecommand, telemetry, video and audio reception systems.

These antennas met the specification from Cranfield Aerospace in that they should be light and small, so that aerodynamics would not be affected, and would function while the experimental aircraft was being trialed in flight. It was critical to have 360° horizontal coverage with maximum elevation pattern for optimized signal reception at a fixed ground location irrespective of the aircraft’s location and orientation.