It’s a bird, it’s a plane…it’s kind of both? KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is funding a V-shaped airplane known as the “Flying V” that will house its fuel, cargo, and passengers within its fuel-efficient, aerodynamic wings. Originally conceived by Technical University of Berlin student Justus Benad and further developed by Delft University of Technology researchers in the Netherlands, the Flying V marks another step in the airline’s effort to combat climate change.
Due to its shape and subsequently reduced weight, the Flying V will use 20% less fuel than the Airbus A350-900 while still carrying a substantial 314 passengers. In an interview with CNN, KLM CEO and President Pieter Elbers pointed out aviation’s role as a major contributor to current global CO2 emissions, and noted that the industry is searching for ways to decrease their collective carbon footprint. Roelof Vos, the project leader at Delft, says the Flying V is a major stride in reducing fuel burn as current energy limitations keep things like electric planes out of reach.
However, you won’t be able to book a flight on the plane anytime soon. According to Vos, early testing has yielded hopeful results, but further speed testing in wind tunnels is needed to make sure the plane is as efficient as possible. Even though they hope to fly a scale model in September, researchers and KLM expect the Flying V to enter service between 2040 and 2050 if everything goes well. Until then, aviation enthusiasts and the general public can visit Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport in October to view a mock-up of the new cabin design during KLM’s 100th anniversary celebration. And if the thought of someday flying inside the wings of a futuristic plane terrifies you, just remember: Superman says flying is the safest way to travel.
Images: Edwin Wallet, OSO Studio for TU Delft