Dutch Airline KLM is celebrating this year its 100-year anniversary and, to truly mark the event, just showed off the Flying-V.
What you’re looking at is the concept of a V-shaped, fuel-efficient airplane where passengers, cargo and fuel tanks could all go in the wings.
Designed by Justus Benad, a former student at the Technical University of Berlin, and developed by researchers from the Delft University of Technology, this Flying-V airplane not only revolutionizes the shape of commercial airplanes but also promises to consume 20% less fuel than an aircraft like the Airbus A350.
For regular people that might not seem like a huge amount but, for the aviation industry, such increases in fuel efficiency are significant, as they allow bigger savings and the reducing of CO2 emissions.
“Aviation is contributing about 2.5% of global CO2 emissions, and the industry is still growing, so we really need to look at more sustainable airplanes,” said TU Delft project leader Roelof Vos.
While this is still a concept, KLM has agreed to fund the development of this aircraft, which has the same wingspan (213 feet) as an Airbus A350 and would not require changes to existing airport infrastructure. Even more, the Flying-V promises to seat 314 passengers, a capacity not far off from the A350, which can carry between 300 and 350 passengers.
If CO2 emissions are an issue, why not go with sustainable electric energy?
The same project leader explained the issues that lead to having to basically reinvent the shape of a commercial aircraft.
“We cannot simply electrify the whole fleet, as electrified airplanes become way too heavy and you can’t fly people across the Atlantic on electric airplanes — not now, not in 30 years. So we have to come up with new technologies that reduce fuel burn in a different way,” he told CNN.
Of course, the timeline for making new aircraft and passing through the rigorous regulations of the aviation industry means we won’t be flying in a Flying-V anytime soon.
If all goes well, this new type of aircraft could enter the service somewhere between 2040 and 2050.