KLM has committed financial support to build a scale model and a full-size section of the interior of the Flying-V, a new long-haul aircraft design that its engineers claim will be an estimated 15 percent more aerodynamically efficient compared to the Airbus A350-900. The V-shaped design, developed by the Netherlands’ leading university for aerodynamics, Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), integrates the passenger cabin, the cargo hold, and the fuel tanks in the wings. It is based on two patents, of which one is held by Airbus.
The concept of the V-shaped airframe will deliver a 20 percent fuel savings compared to the A350 compared at an estimated 7 percent lower empty weight, according to Henri Werij, dean of the faculty of aerospace engineering at TU Delft. In its baseline configuration, the Flying-V 900, would seat about 314 passengers in a standard two-class configuration and carry 36 LD3 containers (160m3). The aircraft is not as long as the A350 but does have the same wingspan, which will enable the Flying-V to use existing infrastructure at airports, such as gates and runways.
In its present design, the Flying-V is propelled by existing fuel-efficient turbofan engines using a blend of conventional kerosene and biofuel though Werij said the design can easily be adapted to make use of innovations in the propulsion system—by using electrically-boosted turbofans for example.
KLM president and CEO Pieter Elbers said the cooperative relationship with TU Delft ties in well with the airline’s strategy and “serves as an important milestone for us on the road to scaling-up sustainable aviation.” He recognized the Flying-V will not enter commercial service any time soon, though the long-term project builds on shorter-term initiatives to reduce KLM’s carbon footprint. (The company recently committed to buying large amounts of sustainable aviation jet fuel from a new plant to be built in the Netherlands.)
A flying scale model and a full-size section of the interior of the Flying-V will be officially presented at the KLM Experience Days at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in October on the occasion of KLM’s 100th anniversary.
KLM Air France Engineering & Maintenance is exhibiting at the show in Hall 2b (Stand C137).