Flying-V Model Completes First Flight


In partnership with 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. As previously reported by AVweb, KLM announced last year that it would be funding the development of the Flying-V. Along with KLM and TU Delft, Airbus is also involved with the project.

Video: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

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Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. Interesting concept, and it may do well for low altitudes. It would be very difficult to provide a pressurized cabin for passengers in such a configuration, though. The sometimes maligned “flying tubes” are really the best shape to handle pressure differentials without resorting to a complex and heavy structure. Innovation is great and I applaud new ideas, but I’m guessing the flying tubes will be with us for many more decades.

  2. IF that were to be developed into a transport aircraft, I well paraphrase Arthur, good luck sitting any more than 30 feet or so off the centerline. Just normal banking will rather be upsetting for the PAX.
    That was pretty much figured out with the Boeing fat flying wing concept two decades ago.

  3. I don’t see what is so unique about a RC Flying wing? I’ve been designing and building RC flying wings for years. Scale models don’t scale to 1:1 there are little things like weight to lift ratios and Reynolds number values that just don’t scale.

  4. Across a fleet the savings would be substantial. The board would gladly line their pockets with that 20%

    But… I agree; the risk is significant and aviation projections do not usually come to fruition.

    Regardless, it’s a stunning design.

  5. There seem to be major practical issues with this design. How would this be manufactured at a reasonable cost? How much would this weigh given a cylinder is presumably much easier to make both light an strong? How would you load and unload the thing, and egress in an emergency? How do you prevent passengers seated outboard from throwing up everywhere?

    I’m all for new designs but this seems like a very steep hill to climb for a 20% fuel savings.

  6. Engineers better get smarter about this opportunity!! I can see in the video that the aircraft is designed by adjoining to cylindrical bodies into a v-structure. In other words more of the same old cramped passenger compartments! This is the perfect opportunity to design an OBLONG shaped tube for passenger comfort. This is the worst discomfort of modern day flying. The oblong shape will allow much better (W-I-D-E-R) passenger compartments for elbow room and personal space!!!