With backing from KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, a scale flying model of an unconventional fuel-efficient long-haul airliner concept has made its debut at the airline’s 100th anniversary celebrations.

The model is being prepared for flight tests to evaluate the low-speed behavior of the Flying-V design developed by the Technical University of Delft (TU Delft).

The V-shaped aircraft has the same wing span and passenger capacity as the Airbus A350, but is predicted to use 20% less fuel. This is because the aircraft has less surface area, resulting in lower drag.

The design is a tailless flying wing. Instead of a single wide, twin-aisle cabin, the Flying-V has two A320-size single-aisle cabins integrated into the V-shaped airframe along with the cargo holds and fuel tanks.

The 4.7%-scale, 3.06-m (10-ft.)-span model has been built by TU Delft to test stability and determine the ideal angle of attack for takeoff and landing. Its function is similar to that of the X-48B/C model built by NASA and Boeing to evaluate the low-speed handling of the Blended Wing Body airliner concept.

The model is powered by two 4-kW electric ducted fans, mounted above the wing trailing edges where they shield fan noise in the full-scale aircraft. To avoid regulations that require special permission to fly unmanned aircraft weighing more than 25 kg (55 lb.), the model weighs just 24.8 kg including batteries.

Graham Warwick Graham.warwick@aviationweek.com