The concept for a V-shaped airplane that was developed back in 2015 may become a reality as the Dutch airline KLM announced that it would begin working on creating the aircraft. Lightweight and fuel-efficient, the flying-V airplane design would theoretically cut down fuel costs by reducing the weight of the aircraft and minimizing aerodynamic drag. According to KLM, this aircraft design would use 20 percent less fuel than an Airbus A350, a very popular small jet plane used by many airlines. Still in its design phase, the Flying-V probably won’t be seen flying overhead until 2040 or 2050.
How Does the V-Shaped Design Work?
While there is more research and development work required to get the concept off the ground, one of the main advantages of the design is that it incorporates the fuselage into the design of the wings. Its 212-foot wingspan is equivalent to that of the A350, meaning that existing runways and gates can be used. However, passengers, cargo holds and fuel tanks would be carried in the wings, eliminating the need for a central fuselage and tail and reducing the weight of the airplane. Its engines would be placed between the wings instead of on the outside of the plane, also minimizing drag while in flight.
While a full sized-section of the plane will be available for display by October, the building of a concept aircraft has yet to be announced. More studies are needed to understand how the design would handle during strong crosswinds or during take-off and landing, as well as how passengers could be safely evacuated from the separate seating areas simultaneously. Efficient pressurization of a V-shaped design is another hurdle that must be overcome before this airplane can take to the skies.
Electric Airplanes Are Also Taking to the Skies
Electric aircraft that are also being designed for sustainable, energy-efficient air travel. Battery technology is currently a liming factor for these crafts and they’re only expected to be used for shorter domestic flights for now. Longer range aircraft, such as ones used for transatlantic flights, is much larger and heavier, making electric-powered flights unfeasible. While battery technology catches up, designs like the V-plane may be more practical.