Boeing Phantom Works developed together with the NASA Langley Research Center, the concept of X - 48th To investigate the flight characteristics of the BWB concept, a remote-controlled model was built at Stanford University, which flew successfully. The next development step should be about 10.7 m long model, to be built at NASA Langley. The flight tests of the second model were scheduled for 2004. However, there were no records of the tests.
Boeing announced in November 2005 that another model ( X -48B ) is built. The press release also indicated that in the meantime the United States Air Force has gone into the project. On 20 July 2007 the unmanned prototype undertook in 1:12 scale with a wingspan of 6.4 meters and a weight of about 250 kg at the Dryden Flight Research Center of the U.S. space agency NASA in California the first test flight. The first flight took 31 minutes; the radio-controlled model reached a speed of 120 kts while (222 km / h) and an altitude of 2286 meters ( 7,500 ft). The end of March ended the X -48B with the eightieth flight successfully so far most complete flight test program for unmanned aircraft at NASA. The previous record holder, the X-45, completed only 40 test flights. The X -48B could provide convincing performance in all flight situations. The X -48B will now receive a new flight computer, to collect data for a greener aviation in a new test flight series "Phase 1.5 " for the " Environmentally Responsible Aviation Project" of NASA. The aim of this program is the reduction of aircraft noise, greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption.
In 2012, a modified version with only two, instead of three engines and two additional vertical surfaces next to the engines under the name X - 48C tested. The construction work on the X - 48C led by Boeing, while the construction at " Cranfield Aerospace" was. NASA and the " U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory " were jointly responsible for flight testing. The X - 48C introduced in April 2013 by its thirtieth and final flight, bringing an eight-month testing phase has been completed. The flights typically had a duration of about 30 minutes, with speeds could be reached to 225 km / h and altitudes of 3000 m.
The BWB concept is to a greater structural, aerodynamic and operational effectiveness make than today's tube - with - wings - concept. The modular design, it could also allow to use different body variants for the same wing. The hope from greater distances and fuel economy and increased reliability. The concept promises to wide range of applications in the civil and military aviation.