KLM President & CEO Pieter Elbers and Dean of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) Professor Henri Werij today signed a new cooperative agreement to work together on making aviation more sustainable at the IATA Annual General Meeting in Seoul. KLM will be contributing towards TU Delft’s research into an innovative flight concept known as the “Flying-V”, which embraces an entirely different approach to aircraft design, in anticipation and support of sustainable long-distance flight in the future.
The aircraft was originally conceptualised as a potential aircraft design for the future, but can be compared to today’s most advanced aircraft, the Airbus A350. Although the plane is not as long as the A350, it does have the same wingspan. This will enable the Flying-V to use existing infrastructure at airports, such as gates and runways, without difficulty and the aircraft will also fit into the same hangar as the A350. What’s more, the Flying-V will carry the same number of passengers – 314 in the standard configuration – and the same volume of cargo, 160m3. The Flying-V will be smaller than the A350, giving it less aerodynamic resistance.
The aircraft’s v-shaped design will integrate the passenger cabin, the cargo hold and the fuel tanks in the wings. Its improved aerodynamic shape and reduced weight will mean it uses 20% less fuel than the Airbus A350, today’s most advanced aircraft. 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.
Improved passenger experience
The Flying-V also provides researchers a unique opportunity to improve passenger experience in aircraft, from the seating layout in the wings, to the design of the seats and bathrooms. Everything has to be as lightweight as possible in order to maximise the efficiency gain the new aircraft shape provides. Passenger comfort is also taken into account.
Fuel versus electric propulsion
The Flying-V is propelled by the most fuel-efficient turbofan engines that currently exist. In its present design it still flies on kerosene, but it can easily be adapted to make use of innovations in the propulsion system – by using electrically-boosted turbofans for example.