A mock-up of the Flying-V long-haul aircraft concept, developed by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and the University of Delft, has taken off for the first time – successfully.
Presented last October, the project of what the Dutch national carrier describes as « the energy-efficient aircraft of the future » flew as a mock-up for the first time and successfully, after numerous tests in the wind tunnel and then on the ground. The aircraft had been on a German base not specified by KLM since last month, with a team of researchers, engineers, and a drone pilot from TU Delft. The aircraft’s V-shaped design will integrate the passenger cabin, cargo hold, and fuel tanks in the wings.
Originally designed as a « potential aircraft for the future », the Flying-V « can be compared to today’s most advanced aircraft, the Airbus A350 » according to the alliance company SkyTeam, which specified yesterday that the European aircraft manufacturer is now involved in the project. Although the plane with its 55m is not as long as the A350, it has the same wingspan (65m); this will allow it to easily use existing infrastructure at airports, such as gates and runways, and the aircraft will also fit into the same hangar as the A350. In addition, the Flying-V will carry the same number of passengers – 314 in the standard two-class configuration – and the same cargo volume, 160 m3. It will therefore be smaller than the A350, which will give it less aerodynamic drag.
Thanks to its improved aerodynamic shape and reduced weight, it is expected to use 20% less fuel than the A350. The aircraft will be powered by turbofan engines, « the most fuel-efficient in existence »; in its current design, it still flies on kerosene, but it can « easily be adapted » to take advantage of innovations in the propulsion system, for example using electrically boosted turbojets. The concept also offers researchers a unique opportunity to enhance the passenger experience on airplanes, from the seating arrangements in the wings to the design of the seats and bathrooms. Everything should be as light as possible in order to maximize the efficiency of the new form of aircraft.