A radical new airplane concept has the potential to dramatically alter the future of flight. Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) and Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands are partnering to develop an aircraft design that promises energy-efficient, long-distance flights and increased passenger comfort. The Flying-V integrates the passenger cabin, cargo hold, and fuel tanks into the aircraft wings.
Long distances, less energy The Flying-V design is a highly energy-efficient, long-distance airplane. The distinctive V-shape improves aerodynamics and reduces overall weight—meaning the aircraft will use 20 percent less fuel than the Airbus A350.
“The Flying-V is smaller than the A350 and has less inflow surface area compared to the available amount of volume. The result is less resistance,” explained project leader at TU Delft, Dr. Roelof Vos. “That means the Flying-V needs less fuel for the same distance.”
While many design changes were made to decrease drag and improve efficiency, the Flying-V has the same wing span as an Airbus A350, allowing it to use the existing infrastructure at airports.
Passenger Comfort The interior of the Flying-V will integrate the latest in lightweight materials and design innovations to promote passenger comfort. Passengers will be offered four distinct seating options.
The first option resembles a booth at a restaurant where passengers can dine, chat, and work. The most traditional seating option features rows of staggered seats, giving passengers increased shoulder and leg room. Passengers who want to rest during long flights can select a sleeping berth that converts into a seat for take-off and landing. Finally, unique chaise lounges give passengers the ultimate in flexibility—as they can sit upright or recline.
The engineering team at TU Delft recently finalized a scale model of the Flying-V. As soon as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and it is safe to fly, the team plans to begin test flights. The test flights are the next step in the creation of this innovative aircraft and will lead to new research questions and bring the team closer to development.