Flying V Successfully Completes First Flight

Yes, it was only a scale model weighing nearly 50lbs. but like all great ventures, it must begin in a formulated step by step process; first with a modest design model, then separate power train testing in wind tunnels, and finally ending with a final design aircraft with months of manned aircraft testing. As the usual FAA requirement, before certification all testing needs to check all communications, software apps, electronics, avionics, fuels systems, powers sources and demonstrate that the aircraft can perform every maneuvering and flying protocol demanded in actual flying conditions. All steps necessary to obtain aircraft certification can be viewed here.

During the International Air Transport Association’s Annual General Meeting, KLM and the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) revealed a design for an alternative “Flying-Vaircraft, which would be more fuel efficient than today’s airliners. Yesterday, as part of KLM’s celebration of 100 years of history, both the airline and TU Delft showed off mock-ups of part of the interior for the Flying-V.

What’s the Flying-V?

It’s a highly energy efficient aircraft design for long distance flights. It’s called the Flying-V because its passenger cabin, cargo hold and fuel tanks are integrated in the wings, creating a spectacular V-shape. The design is expected to use 20% less fuel than today’s most energy efficient aircraft (the Airbus A350) due to its aerodynamic shape. 

However, with more fuel-efficient engines than today, the fuel consumption can be lower and using hydrogen propulsion – which might be possible – gives no CO2 emissions at all. Hydrogen, as most power engineers agree, is the ultimate answer to many of our fixed location as well as our mobile, transport-based power needs.

The First Test 

A totally new scale model design of aircraft which incorporates all elements of air travel, both passengers and/or freight into the wing has completed its’ first flight over a well-guarded airbase in Germany. .

The partnership of Dutch airline KLM, Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) has successfully flown a scale model of its Flying-V airliner concept for the first time. The remotely controlled model weighs in at 22.5 kg (49.6 lbs.) with a 3.06-meter (10.04-foot) wingspan. The Flying-V, which “integrates the passenger cabin, cargo hold and fuel tanks in the wings,” is designed to be an energy-efficient long-haul aircraft.

“One of our worries was that the aircraft might have some difficulty lifting-off, since previous calculations had shown that ‘rotation’ could be an issue,” said project leader Roelof Vos. “The team optimized the scaled flight model to prevent the issue but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. You need to fly to know for sure.”

According to TU Delft, the Flying-V will offer a 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption over the Airbus A350 while carrying a comparable number of passengers. KLM announced last year that it would be funding the development of the Flying-V. Along with KLM and TU Delft, Airbus is also on the project team.

New technologies always need fine tuning, that is the usual process in the transition from known engineering challenges to unknown. Preliminary scale model testing, and even early flight testing  can go just so far before the actual certification testing.  

I have reviewed the detail design and photos of the wing shapes make seating a bit of a tangle. I, for one would not be too excited in sitting in the variable height seating configurations.  Also, without windows, there is no direction or altitude recognition and after years and years of flying, I would feel uncomfortable without a window nearby.  But then again, I was not so comfortable with the early PC’s after  being a main frame system engineer.

Joseph Alba
Mr. Alba was previously Editor of the Airport Press for 12 years covering both local as well as global aviation news. Prior to this, Mr. Alba had Executive positions in Systems Engineering and Marketing with IBM World Trade, and had foreign assignments in the Far East and Latin America earning three Outstanding Achievement Awards. Mr. Alba also directed a new function dealing with Alternate Fuels for Public Service Electric & Gas company in New Jersey and founded a Natural Gas Vehicle Consortium consisting of car company executives and fleet owners, and NGV suppliers in New Jersey. Mr. Alba was a founding partner of ATA, an IT Consulting company which is still active in Central and South America. After leaving the armed forces, Mr. Alba’s initial employee was the U.S. Defense Department as an analyst.

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