Flying-V: different shape, same capacity, more sustainable

Dutch university TU-Delft and Netherlands airline giant KLM partnered up to make the aviation sector more sustainable. Their futuristic V-shaped plane – the Flying-V - has the same capacity as an Airbus A350, but with 20% less fuel consumption.


Flying-V aircraft

Delft University of Technology and Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) signed a financial agreement for the research and development of a concept V-shaped sustainable aircraft, that has almost the same dimensions as an Airbus A350. Although having the same wingspan (65 meters), the length of Flying-V concept is 12 meters shorter (55 compared to 67). This makes it possible to use the current airport infrastructure. In addition to that, both planes can carry 314 passengers.

The design is based on an idea developed by Justus Benad, a student from Technical University Berlin, during his internship at airplane manufacturer Airbus. As the name suggests, the Flying-V has a V-shaped fuselage that integrates the passenger cabin, cargo haul and fuel tanks into the wings. The design gives it less aerodynamic drag, and together with its reduced weight, makes it more fuel-sufficient compared to current modern airplanes.

The aircraft will be propelled by the most fuel-efficient engines currently available. However, innovative propulsion systems - like electric-boosted turbofans – can easily be fitted in the future.

Even though the main objective of the V-shaped design is to create an aero-dynamic sustainable airplane, it also provides an opportunity to experiment with the cabin layout. The unusual shape of the aircraft makes it a challenge to position the seats as efficient as possible, while improving passenger experience. Designers are also looking for innovative ways in which passengers can rest and dine, such as offering buffet style meals instead of being served in their seats.

Engineers of TU-Delft are currently developing a scale model of the Flying-V along with a full-sized model of the interior, both of which will be revealed in October during KLM’s 100 year anniversary.

Smart and sustainable aviation

The aviation sector is responsible for around 2.5% of global CO2 emissions. The percentage has been on the rise due to the increase in flights and long flying distances. For this reason, the Dutch aviation sector presented the ‘Smart and Sustainable’ action plan, which actively helps plan and encourage transport organisations, knowledge institutions and the government to collaborate on finding ways to make air travel more sustainable and decrease Dutch aviation’s CO2 emissions by 35% by 2030.

With this initiative, TU-Delft and KLM’s project will play an important role in the development of the next generation of emission-free aircraft.