New Flying-V Plane Prototype Takes To The Skies For The Very First Time
A prototype for an innovative new V-shaped plane took to the skies for the first time in what has been hailed a ‘milestone’ for the flight program.
The Flying-V rethinks the traditional shape of planes by ditching the long, straight cabin to have passengers fly in two compartments that also form the wings of the plane.
The craft has been funded by Dutch airline KLM, and last month a prototype model of the plane took flight in the skies above Germany.
Check it out below:
Rather than jumping straight in with a full-sized model, engineers from KLM and the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) created a miniature version of the plane, which was remote-controlled and manned by a drone pilot.
KLM shared a video of the flight, in which project lead Roelof Vos explains that the plane’s V-shape allows it to consume less fuel than a conventional ‘tube and wing’ aircraft.
The prototype was designed to scale to prove that the unique craft would be able to fly, and to test the response of the aeroplane when the pilot makes maneuvers.
Following the successful flight, Malcolm Brown, TU Delft’s chief engineer for the Flying-V testing program, said:
It’s been two years of intense stressful work to reach this moment.
And then, to have it confirmed that it flies, all of that hard work, it was worth putting in all of the hours making sure everything’s correct and built properly, built accurately, and it pays off.
Though the plane performed well in the sky, it had a rocky landing that saw the nose wheel of the plane get damaged.
KLM commented on the video after sharing it on YouTube, explaining that the damage was due to ‘a gust of wind and the pilot’s response to this’. The company added, ‘This is common practice with scaled model test flights. (It’s estimated that one out of two scaled aircraft gets damaged this way.)’
KLM said the model is now being repaired and prepared for subsequent test flights, but it is now also up to KLM and TU Delft to build a full-sized version of the craft – a project that is predicted to cost billions.
Last year, Vos told CNN the trial of new designs was necessary as planes could not be electric because they would become ‘way too heavy’.
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.
The Flying-V will be able to carry a total of 314 passengers, and is said to burn 20% less fuel than traditional passenger jets.
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CreditsKLM Royal Dutch Airlines/YouTube and 1 other
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines/YouTube