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Couldn't you just generate lift with a long body? Maybe a little broader than a normal plane.

As a design enhancement, we would need a heavier bottom, so the plane doesn't flips to a side.

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fighters are designed almost like that or flying wings –  ratchet freak Mar 30 at 1:41

2 Answers 2

Yes you can, these are called lifting bodies, they are not very efficient and require a lot of speed before they generate enough lift to stay aloft, requiring a long runway.

In 1983 a F-15 fighter lost a wing in a mid air collision and was able to land safely due in part by the main body being able to generate enough lift for the plane to stay controllable.

They are only really useful for supersonic flight where normal wings create too much drag

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That f-15 story never fails to amaze me. –  jollypianoman Mar 30 at 5:32
    
Saw a pic of that F-15. A couple feet beyond the wing root the wing was just ... gone. Amazing. –  radarbob Apr 2 at 3:03
    
Pics or it didn't happen: skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/9884/… –  Bigbio2002 May 6 at 17:26
    
Although remember that the F-15 also has a >1 Thrust-weight ratio... in theory, if you could balance one properly, you could pull up vertically and reduce power which would allow could hover and land vertically on the tail. In that crash, the engine thrust was used to augment lift (along with the high speed) –  Jon Story Nov 21 at 12:13

There are indeed lifting bodies which were able to fly without wings. But wings are much better at creating lift than a bulky fuselage. The space shuttle was developed based on testing lifting bodies, which allows it to have fairly small wings.

What you are describing sounds a bit like the blended-wing-body (BWB), which smoothly integrates the fuselage with the wing. Sort of like a commercial version of the B-2 flying wing design.

enter image description here

This is certainly still in the concept phase. Boeing has flown a scale model to test the concept, and it has performed well. Aside from being more efficient than traditional designs, it can also produce much less noise if the engines are positioned above the fuselage.

We have about 100 years of development in the traditional airplane design, which contributes to the efficiency and safety that we are able to achieve right now. Going with a BWB design alters so many of the standard design features that this presents a very radical change. When the benefits start to outweigh the costs of moving to this design, we may start to see more planes like this.

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The BWB design is interesting, but it's unlikely to ever be used in an airliner. First, this shape doesn't fit nicely into the gate systems at airports. Second, most of the passengers would have to sit too far from doors or windows to be comfortable (or to meet evacuation requirements). –  fluffysheap Mar 30 at 6:57
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@fluffysheap yeah, waaaay too many middle seats in a plane like that. It is interesting how much customer perception matters. I remember watching a documentary on Boeing vs. Lockheed designing a new fighter (Lockheed won and gave us the F-35), but Boeing's design was so radical, it almost was doomed from the beginning because it didn't "look" like what a fighter "should" look like. I think the same thing applies with airplanes. In fact (and this is ridiculous), I knew someone who wanted to fly Pipers rather than Cessna singles because the Pipers "looked like a real airplane." –  Canuk Mar 30 at 15:06
    
Those are some good points. I'm not sure I can totally discount the possibility, though. It's all just problems to be solved. –  fooot Mar 30 at 16:23
    
Hey! More radical and absurd airplane designs: dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2538651/… –  shortstheory Mar 30 at 17:04
    
Saying that lifting bodies testing is what allowed the shuttle to have small wings might be a little misleading because you make it sound like the shuttle was designed using lifting body concepts, when really all they shared in common was a steep approach profile followed by a long flare. In fact, one of the reasons lifting-body research was abandoned by the US Air Force was because the Shuttle decided to go with a double-delta wing instead of a lifting body configuration. –  Bret Copeland Mar 31 at 0:40

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