Aircraft

Flying V long-distance plane makes its first flight as a scale model

Flying V long-distance plane m...
A scale model of the Flying V plane takes to the skies for the first time
A scale model of the Flying V plane takes to the skies for the first time
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The Flying V scale model takes to the air on its maiden flight
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The Flying V scale model takes to the air on its maiden flight
The team tinkers with the scale model of the Flying V airplane
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The team tinkers with the scale model of the Flying V airplane
A scale model of the Flying V plane takes to the skies for the first time
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A scale model of the Flying V plane takes to the skies for the first time
A scale model of the Flying V airplane on the runway
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A scale model of the Flying V airplane on the runway
A scale model of the Flying V airplane in the workshop
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A scale model of the Flying V airplane in the workshop
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Last year we caught wind of an interesting aviation concept cooked up by engineers at TU Delft, which consisted of a novel V-shaped design that promises significant efficiency gains over conventional aircraft. The project has now progressed from slick renders of a futuristic aircraft to a scale model capable of flight, which was recently shown in action for the very first time.

In its fully realized form, the Flying V aircraft would feature a cabin, cargo hold and fuel tanks integrated into its V-shaped wing structure, which would have a wingspan equal to that of an Airbus A350. This would enable the Flying V to take off and land using existing airport infrastructure, with enough space on board for the same amount of cargo and human passengers, with 314 seats in the standard configuration.

Where the Flying V would offer some performance benefits, however, is through improved aerodynamics due to its overall smaller airframe. Less mass means less resistance, which means less fuel is needed to carry the Flying V to its destination. According to the team, the reduced weight and unique shape of the Flying V could see it use 20 percent less fuel than an Airbus A350-900, the most advanced commercial aircraft in action today.

The team tinkers with the scale model of the Flying V airplane
The team tinkers with the scale model of the Flying V airplane

There is a lot of research and development to take place before then, however. As part of its pursuit of this vision, the team has been developing a scale model with Dutch airline KLM, which joined the project last year. With a wingspan of 3.06 m (10 ft), a length of 2.76 m (9.05 ft) and a weight of 22.5 kg (50 lb), it is just a fraction of the size of the 55-meter-long (180-ft) concept, but allows the team to carry out some important and useful testing on a small and safe scale.

The model is fitted with a control system for drones and 6 kg (13 lb) of lithium-polymer batteries. It was first put through a raft of wind tunnel and ground tests in the Netherlands before being shipped off to Germany for its maiden flight.

This was carried out at an airbase in July with a team from Airbus, with a couple of key goals in mind. The team set out to show that the scale model could take off, carry out a range of test maneuvers until the batteries were almost depleted, and then land safely. With drone pilot Nando van Arnhem at the controls, the model’s maiden flight was deemed a success.

A scale model of the Flying V airplane on the runway
A scale model of the Flying V airplane on the runway

The team now has a collection of flight data to analyze and use as the basis for a new aerodynamic model. This model can then be used to determine what changes need to be made to the model aircraft to ensure smoother flights moving forward. For example, through the test flight the team uncovered signs of wobbling in the current design, with the aircraft struggling to keep its wings level and land smoothly. They now hope to use the data to correct this behavior.

From here, the team is also working to fine-tune the concept, with the next steps involving the exploration of sustainable propulsion, including the possibility of powering it with liquid hydrogen instead of kerosene.

You can check out the maiden flight of the scale model in the video below.

Flying-V - Scale model maiden flight

Source: TU Delft

View gallery - 5 images
11 comments
Dug
History just repeats itself over, and over. Check out Jack Northrop's YB-49, and XB-35 in the late 40s.
michael_dowling
How come it didn't retract the landing gear?
pmshah
Was the un-retracted landing gear helping in stabilising it in any way by "unwanted" drag ???
buzzclick
V aircraft are not new. The B-2 Spirit is one. This concept from the Netherlands seems to be really taking off. The Gibson Flying V electric guitar came out in 1958.
CraigAllenCorson
It will need a spar between the wings, at the trailing edge. Trust me on this; just an instinct I have. No, I am not an aeronautical engineer - nor any other kind.
Brian M
@CraigAllenCorson
Yes you feel as though a spar is required to prevent it folding in. But guess they have done the calculations, but the old adage in aircraft design:
If it looks right it probably is, If it looks wrong then it probably isn't!

But canard designs never looks right to me, but they fly well!
Pancho Molina
Trabajar con modelos a escala permite visualizar el concepto en forma real, es el comienzo no una idea definitiva, al menos la idea ya esta volando.
Leonard Wolff
I build and manufacture real airplane that people fly.
Making a 50 pound model with a 10 foot wingspan fly means almost nothing.
I can make a piece of plywood fly with modern power sources and electronics.
Not to take away from the concept, the concept is good and very doable.
Boeing is already making something like this already. Not this radical, but basically a lifting body plane.
I will get excited when I see a 60 foot wingspan with a gross weigh equivalent to our large business jets.
I would not invest in this yet.
FB36
"with enough space on board for the same amount of cargo and human passengers"

IMHO such a whole new body design aircraft would be extremely more costly to produce than regular airliners, which defeats any efficiency gains!?

IMHO there is a much better way to lower costs per passenger/cargo & even to increase safety of aircraft operation at the same time:

Imagine, 3 airliner fuselages joined/fused together side-by-side w/& 2 sets of main wings back-to-back!
-dphiBbydt
Being a passenger on the outer part of one of the wings is going to be horrible especially when the craft initiates a steeply banked turn. You are going to experience a lot of roll compared to a passenger near the axis.