The ‘Flying-V’ Could Be The Game-Changer In The Airline Industry

KLM's Flying-V Concept Plane | Photo From: TUDelft

The future of aircraft lies in the development of V-shaped and fuel-efficient airplane known as the “Flying-V” created by Justus Benad — in an attempt to improve the sustainability of air travel.

Airlines are creating ways to lessen environmental hazard. Recently, the Virgin Atlantic used to recycle waste to power a commercial flight — an innovative approach to combat excessive use of fuel. Boeing and JetBlue resorted to creating hybrid electric planes with a hybrid propulsion system built in one of the genset and multiple electric motors and system architecture with distributed drives.

And today, the Netherland’s KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is taking another approach for commercial flights.

The development of a V-shaped or “Flying V” is getting a lift from the Dutch National Carrier who pledged to fund the project. The idea to modernize aircraft comes from the creative mind of Justus Benad, who was then a student at the Technical University of Berlin. Researchers from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, or also called as TU Delft, later on, developed the idea.

What does the new aircraft offer?

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is the flag carrier for the Netherlands. Its headquarter’s located in Amstelveen, and a part of the Air France-KLM group, as well as, a member of the SkyTeam airline alliance. It was founded in 1919, which makes it the oldest airline in the world operating under its original name. Up until now, it utilized several major commercial flights. True to its word “Bridging the World,” KLM wants to connect the world with its innovative approach in aircraft services. 

Flying-V gives a radical new approach to an airplane’s overall design. It targets to put passenger seats inside the plane’s wings, and it could mainly decrease the amount of fuel needed for flights by a substantial 20 percent. It will use less fuel than the Airbus350-900 while carrying a similar number of passengers. The Flying-V will seat 314 while the Airbus A350 seats between 300 and 350.

TU Delft expressed that the institution has been flying these tube and wing airplanes for decades, but it looks like the configuration is reaching a plateau in terms of energy efficiency, Project Leader Roelof Vos told CNN.

The design is going to imitate the A350’s 65-meter (213 feet) wingspan — enabling it to use the existing airport infrastructure.

Fuel for life

On Monday, KLM announced that aside from putting passengers in the plane’s wings, the fuel tanks and cargo hold will be placed there as well. The new configuration that TU Delft proposes has seen some synergy between the fuselage and the wing. The fuselage activity adds to the lift of the airplane and creates less aerodynamic drag.

Such innovation was needed as a stepping stone to greater efficiency, while technology was still being developed to create large-scale electric airplanes without compromising the environment. Aviation is contributing about 2.5 percent of global CO2 emissions, and the industry is still growing, so the company needs to provide more sustainable airplanes, added Vos.

Electrified airplanes, on the other hand, can be too heavy and it can’t fly people across the Atlantic on electric planes. The world needs new technologies that reduce fuel burn differently, and Flying-V is the answer. Its increased fuel efficiency is mostly the result of its aerodynamic design.

Researchers plan to fly a scale model this September, Vos said — while a mock-up of the newest cabin design will be available for the public to view at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport in October. The viewing activity is also a part of KLM’s 100th-anniversary celebration.

For the meantime, the design is set for arduous testing. The said University had numerical testing and preliminary wind tunnel tests. The latter needs to be done several times with high-speed and low-speed wind tunnels to establish the airplane’s efficiency.

The finished product is expected to enter the service between 2040 and 2050.

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