Delft University of Technology are working with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines to develop an aircraft fit for the future. The plane, dubbed the ‘Flying-V’, completely revolutionizes aircraft shape, incorporating wings, fuselage and cabins all into one. The V shaped aircraft is proposed to be far more efficient than anything else in the skies, returning 20% more fuel efficiency than an Airbus A350.
There have been a few aircraft in the past that have really changed things up. The De Havilland Comet with its jet engine propulsion; the Boeing 747 with its distinctive hump and two floor cabins; The 787-9 brining new materials and technology… times move on, and so too do aircraft.
However, for the bulk of history, aircraft have always looked the same way. A central fuselage with a wing on each side. It’s the natural way for a plane to look, pretty reminiscent of a bird in glide mode and something we’ve come to take for granted over the years.
Well, now there could be a complete game changer, as KLM are investing in something that looks, well, a bit different.
Aptly named after the legendary Gibson guitar which boasted a similar shape, they call this the Flying-V.
What is the Flying-V?
The Flying-V is being designed to be a highly efficient, long haul jet. It began life as an idea of TU Berlin student Justus Benad while he was writing his thesis at Airbus Hamburg. It is being created to be an aircraft of the future, offering everything the Airbus A350 can right now, but at a lower cost to both operators and the environment.
Now, it’s being developed by the Delft University of Technology, under the guidance of Dr. Roelof Vos, project leader. The developers say that although the Flying-V would not be as long as the A350, it would have a similar wingspan meaning no airport alterations would be needed to handle the aircraft.
It would also handle a similar number of passengers, around 314 in standard configuration, and would hold the same amount of cargo at 160m3. Th magic comes in when you look at the overall size of the aircraft.
Despite having a very similar function on paper to the A350, the Flying-V is significantly smaller, which gives it less aerodynamic resistance. As such, they expect it to perform far better than anything in the air right now.
All the components, including the cabins, cargo and fuel tanks, are housed in the aerodynamic wings of the plane. This means it will be super lightweight, very aerodynamic and still comfortable to fly, while returning as much as a 20% saving on fuel compared to the A350.
Dr. Vos is quoted by Business Traveler as saying that it has,
“…less inflow surface area compared to the available amount of volume. The result is less resistance. That means the Flying-V needs less fuel for the same distance.”
You can see a teaser of the Flying-V in the video below.
KLM give the Flying-V a funding boost
Dutch airline KLM have signed an agreement with Delft University of Technology to work together on the development of the plane. The airline will be contributing to TU Delft’s research into the Flying-V, “in anticipation and support of sustainable long-distance flight in the future”.
CEO and President of KLM, Peter Elbers, said in a press release:
“In recent years, KLM has developed as a pioneer in sustainability within the airline industry. The development of aviation has given the world a great deal, offering us an opportunity to connect people. This privilege is paired with a huge responsibility for our planet. KLM takes this very seriously and has therefore been investing in sustainability at different levels for many years, enabling it to develop a broad spectrum of sustainability initiatives. We are proud of our progressive cooperative relationship with TU Delft, which ties in well with KLM’s strategy and serves as an important milestone for us on the road to scaling-up sustainable aviation.”
A flying scale model of the Flying-V and a full size section of interior will be revealed at the KLM Experience Days at Schiphol in October, when the airline celebrates its 100th anniversary.