With the looming threat of climate change, companies are investing in researching new energy technologies. In 2015, Bill Gates, alongside 27 of the world’s richest billionaires launched the Breakthrough Energy Coalition. The coalition is seeking to reduce emissions to the barest minimum, but away from tech, another company, this time, within the air sector is seeking to fight fuel emissions.

Designed by researchers at Delft University in the Netherlands and funded by KLM, the Flying V-Plane is reported to burn 20% less fuel than the most efficient plane. The Flying-V was conceived by Justus Benad, then a student at the Technical University of Berlin, and developed by researchers at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands [1].

The wingspan is the same as that of a regular aircraft, but in this instance, the passengers will sit where the wings are.

Sustainable Aviation

Pieter Elbers, CEO, and president of KLM said in a statement:

“In recent years, KLM has developed as a pioneer in sustainability within the airline industry. We are proud of our progressive cooperative relationship with TU Delft, which ties in well with KLM’s strategy and serves as an important milestone for us on the road to scaling-up sustainable aviation.”

Greater Efficiency

TU Delft project leader Roelof Vos said the innovation was needed as a stepping stone to greater efficiency [2].

“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,” he said.

“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,” Vos continued. “So we have to come up with new technologies that reduce fuel burn in a different way.

“We’ve been flying these tube and wing airplanes for decades now, but it seems like the configuration is reaching a plateau in terms of energy efficiency,” he said. “The new configuration that we propose realizes some synergy between the fuselage and the wing. The fuselage actively contributes to the lift of the airplane, and creates less aerodynamic drag.”

Although details about the interior of the aircraft are scarce at this point, Peter Vink, professor of Applied Ergonomics and Design at the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering who is involved in the project has given an insight into what we could expect.

“The new shape of the aircraft means we have exciting opportunities to design the interior, making flying more comfortable for passengers. For instance, as part of the Flying-V research, we’re looking into new options to having a rest or taking meals on a plane. Offering food from a buffet is one of the options we’re sinking our teeth into,” he said.

The scale model of the Flying-V is set to be tested in October 2019 with researchers hoping to maintain reliability and stability while being flown at lower speeds.

References:

  1. New Flying V-Plane Gets Test Flight This Year And Could Change Air Travel Forever“, Healthy Food House. June, 2019.
  2. KLM to fund development of fuel-efficient Flying-V plane“, CNN Travel. June, 2019.
  3. Breakthrough Energy Coalition Launches $1 Billion Ventures Fund“, PND. December, 2016.
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