A model of the new aircraft Flying-V has completed its first test flight. KLM, TU Delft, and Airbus presented the results.
It was the first test flight since the project took off in February 2019. The flight was conducted in July by a scale model of what will eventually become the Flying-V. The aircraft is already said to be “the most revolutionary development in aviation since the jet engine”. According to the team from the Technical University of Delft the flight was successful. The video shows that the scale model performs a steep climb without stalling. According to the researchers, the 5-minute flight delivered a lot of data which can be used in the simulators.
The presentation was introduced by KLM CEO Pieter Elbers. “For KLM, sustainability has been on the top of our agenda for the last 15 years. There are two important pillars for us: collaboration and innovation. According to Elbers, this is why KLM participates in this project. “It is a big leap forward when it comes to sustainability.”
The next scale model test flight is expected to be carried out in 2021. It is currently still unknown when a full-scale Flying-V will be ready to fly. The development of a regular aircraft usually takes at least 7 years. However, since the Flying-V is an unprecedented aircraft model, research and development will take much longer. “We need to look at all the aspects of this airplane, reduce the risks, look at all the unique aspects, and make sure we understand them. We need to be certain about compliance with safety requirements,” said the team during the presentation.
Some aspects of the plane will need to be improved. The centre of gravity is a little too far in the back, causing the aircraft to be unstable. It regularly ends up in what is called a Dutch roll, in which the aircraft is both rolling and yawing at the same time. The aberrant centre of gravity caused the Flying-V’s nose wheel to collapse not long after its successful landing.
The Flying-V is a design for a much more energy-efficient long haul plane. The aircraft design integrates the passenger cabin, cargo hold, and fuel tanks with the wings, creating a V-shape. Computer calculations have predicted that the improved aerodynamic shape and reduced weight will allow the aircraft to use 20% less fuel on long haul flights compared to today’s most advanced aircrafts.
KLM has been a partner in the project since 2019. The collaboration was first presented during KLM’s 100th anniversary in October last year. Various partners are involved in the project including Airbus, which is explicitly involved in the test flights. The next step in the development of the project is to equip the Flying-V with a sustainable drive.