KLM and Delft University of Technology took the opportunity of this year’s International Air Transport Association general meeting in Seoul, South Korea to sign a historic pact to work towards aviation sustainability. The deal will see the Dutch flag carrier providing support for the university researcher working on the cutting edge Flying-V ultra-efficient passenger plane.
An agreement inked this week between KLM and the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) may just help to change the future of air travel. The pact, signed at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual general meeting in Seoul, South Korea this week, will not only allow the airline to work as a research partner with the university for real-world tests of new technologies which could help improve fuel efficiency of all aircraft, but will also create an opportunity and the funding to move the innovative Flying-V passenger plane prototype forward.
“We are incredibly pleased to be able to cooperate with our trusted partner KLM on our combined mission to make aviation more sustainable,” Dean of Aerospace Engineering at TU Delft Henri Werij said upon signing the partnership. “Radically new and highly energy-efficient aircraft designs such as the Flying-V are important in this respect, as are new forms of propulsion. Our ultimate aim is one of emission free flight. Our cooperation with KLM offers a tremendous opportunity to bring about real change.”
The so-called “Flying-V,” which gets its name from its obvious v-shaped, flying wing appearance, will be unveiled publicly at the KLM 100th anniversary celebration at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) in October. The flight-capable prototype is said to employ the “most fuel-efficient turbofan engines that currently exist.”
Although the plane has a wingspan equal to that of the Airbus A350 (a length chosen to ensure the Flying-V can land at a wide selection of airports), the much smaller prototype plane will be capable of carrying the same number of passengers and the same amount of cargo as its considerably larger counterpart. The plane’s unique v-shaped engineering will mean that passenger cabins and cargo holds will extend into the wings (the plane is in fact nearly all wing). The resulting aerodynamic improvement and lower weight will give the Flying-V an impressive 20 percent fuel efficiency advantage over the A350.
KLM says it will work with engineers to create new configurations for the one-of-a-kind interior spaces of the Flying-V. The carrier will also be instrumental in testing new lightweight components planned to be used in the new plane’s cabin.
“In recent years, KLM has developed as a pioneer in sustainability within the airline industry,” KLM CEO Pieter Elbers said of the deal. “The development of aviation has given the world a great deal, offering us an opportunity to connect people. This privilege is paired with a huge responsibility for our planet. KLM takes this very seriously and has therefore been investing in sustainability at different levels for many years, enabling it to develop a broad spectrum of sustainability initiatives. 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.”
[Featured Image: KLM]