There have been big aircraft advances since flying began: jet engines, lighter materials, computerised control systems. But the shape of the planes has stayed the same — fuselage, two wings and a tail. Aviation engineers have long seen the heavy fuselage as a nuisance. What if the passengers and cargo could be housed in a wing?

The flying wing might look futuristic but the idea is nothing new. Possibly the first flying wing was designed and flown by Czech aviation pioneer Igo Etrich in 1909, though he had to add a tail to keep it stable. During World War 2, both the Americans and Germans worked at flying-wing bombers, without fully succeeding. In the postwar era, the US managed to build flying-wing military aircraft such as the B-2 stealth bomber.

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Sunday Times Daily.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now