The scale model of the Flying-V – the energy-efficient aircraft of the future – has flown for the first time. A year and a half ago TU Delft and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines announced the start of the design of the Flying-V during IATA 2019 and after extensive wind tunnel tests and ground tests it was finally ready. The first successful test flight is a fact.
In September 2020, a team of researchers, engineers and a drone pilot from TU Delft, led by South African-born engineer Malcolm Brown, travelled to an airbase in Germany for the first test flight. Pieter Elbers, President and CEO of KLM, notes that the team was very curious about the flight characteristics of the Flying-V. “The design fits within our Fly Responsibly initiative, which stands for everything we are doing and will do to improve our sustainability. We want a sustainable future for aviation and innovation is part of that. KLM has been among the top three most sustainable airlines worldwide in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for many years. We want to continue to do so in the future. We are therefore very proud that we have been able to achieve this together in such a short period of time,” says Elbers.
The Flying-V is a design for a very energy-efficient long-haul aircraft. The design of the aircraft integrates the passenger cabin, cargo hold and fuel tanks in the wings, creating a spectacular V-shape. Computer calculations have predicted that the improved aerodynamic shape and reduced weight of the aircraft will reduce fuel consumption by 20% compared to today’s most advanced aircraft.
Collaboration and Innovation
KLM presented the scale model for the first time during KLM’s 100th anniversary in October 2019. Several partners are now involved in the project, including manufacturer Airbus. “You can’t make the aviation sector more sustainable on your own, but you have to do it together,” says Elbers. Collaborating with partners and sharing knowledge takes us all further. That’s why we will further develop the Flying-V concept with all partners. The next step will be to fly the Flying-V on sustainable fuel,” Elbers adds. Despite operating in very challenging and uncertain times, KLM remains committed and continues to invest in the future.
Watch the below video of the flight
Image Courtesy: Supplied