Since then, the tube-shaped fuselage and low wing with engine nacelles have been the norm for the industry. But that could change very soon: a project powered by KLM airline is moving forward in a revolutionary "flying wing" format.
The Flying-V is a very energy efficient long haul aircraft design. The design of the aircraft integrates the passenger cabin, cargo hold and fuel tanks in the wings, creating a V-shape. Computer calculations have predicted that the improved aerodynamic shape and reduced weight of the aircraft will reduce fuel consumption by 20% compared to today's most advanced aircraft.
The Dutch airline KLM and the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) announced this week the successful first flight of the scale model of the aircraft.
Why has the basic shape of airliners remained unchanged since the late 1950s? One of the main causes is that the international architecture of airports and services cannot be changed without great costs, which favors continuity before revolution.
However, this will not be an obstacle for the Flying-V. Although it has a very different structure, the KLM aircraft has the same wingspan as a conventional commercial jet, such as the Airbus A350.
It is expected that the standard version of the Flying-V can accommodate about 314 passengers, also equivalent to the A350. The new one will change from the seating arrangement in the wings to the design of the seats and restrooms.
As explained by the company, everything has to be as light as possible to maximize the efficiency gain provided by the new shape of the aircraft. The comfort of the passengers is also taken into account.
Well advanced with development, last month a team of researchers, engineers and a drone pilot from TU Delft traveled to an air base in Germany for the first test flight, which was a success.
"We were very curious about the flying characteristics of the Flying-V. The design fits perfectly within our Flying Responsible initiative, which represents everything we are doing and will continue to do to improve our sustainability. We want a sustainable future for aviation and innovation. it's part of it, "said Pieter Elbers, President and CEO of KLM.
KLM introduced the scale model for the first time during its 100th anniversary, in October 2019. Currently, several partners are involved in the project, including manufacturer Airbus.
The new plane sets a new battleground in the long competition between Airbus and Boeing. Both companies fight for supremacy in the industry of commercial plane manufacturing and implicitly have the support of the state. USA stands for Boeing and Europa for Airbus.