MIAMI – A scale model Flying-V, an experimental blended-wing aircraft design that could soon be commonplace, recently took to the skies in Germany. The project was undertaken with the sponsorship of KLM Airlines, the aircraft is a design by the Delft Technical Center (TU Delft) in the Netherlands. Recently, the aircraft flew from a German airbase assisted by an Airbus team.

The Flying-V was conceived as a long-range fuel-efficient aircraft with a wing that includes passenger seats, tanks and luggage. Research shows that the configuration is up to 20% better than the existing one on most of the advanced Airbus A350 jet-liners. It is also approximately 15% more effective on aerodynamics than conventional aircraft. The design can fit 314 passengers in both classes at full scale.

Photo: KLM

The Flight

According to Robb Report, the scale model was controlled via radio link by a student from TU Delft, who flew it like a drone. Its two 4kW electric “ducted fan” engines were powered by a lithium polymer battery. The student moved the Flying-V through a series of maneuvers, including takeoff, turns and approaches, and landing.

Roelof Vos, an assistant professor of flight performance and propulsion at TU Delft, told, “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. The team optimized the scaled flight model to prevent the issue. But you need to fly to know for sure.”

Vos said the thrust of the aircraft was powerful, and the flight speeds and angles were as anticipated by the team. The model does have a rough landing due to the aircraft’s shape and difficulty in keeping the wings level. With the flight data collected, the team is set to build an aerodynamic version of the scaled model.

While it is an unusual configuration, it harkens back to the also German Junkers G.38, whose design will be a hundred years old in 2029.

Featured image: KLM