Why This Bizarre V-Shaped Plane Idea Might Just Fly

V-shaped plane
The V-shaped plane from KLM and Airbus dubbed the Flying-V. Coutesy of Delft University of Technology 

Since the heyday of Burt Rutan, we’ve grown somewhat accustomed to weird plane shapes. This one, dubbed the Flying-V (nicely descriptive, but not very creative in our estimation), is being promoted by Dutch airline KLM and manufacturer Airbus, and is pushing itself down the aisle and way past our comfort zone.

The concept plane—dream on if you thought such a thing could be flying already—was developed a few years ago…by a college student (!) interning at Airbus. Nonetheless, KLM at some point decided to run with it. The landed on Airbus’ desk and by all outward appearances, the plane maker was intrigued.

Now the most obvious feature of this plane, composed of one oddity after the other, is that the passengers are seating in the leading edge of the wing. Because the wing is so wildly swept, the passengers’ view is mostly sideways, just as it is in, well, every other airliner in the world, but there is an angle to it, too. Then there are practical questions that we need to assume get answered at some point, such as, where does the fuel go? (In the wings.) What about the bags? (Again, in the wings.) Everything is in the wings. It’s nothing but wings and engines.

There are questions of aerodynamics, too. Will the flying wishbone (see!) be able to move through the air in a stable and predictable fashion? Then there’s a big question that anyone undertaking a project of this scope would have to ask: Will anybody want to fly on this thing? It will be focus-grouped, no doubt. But we have our doubts on this point. The Flying-V is kind of freaky even for window passengers, and it might be even weirder those folks who are three or five or, heaven forbid, eight seats in. And flying at an angle seems peculiar, too. Shouldn’t passengers be facing forward and not off at a 45-degree angle?

The advantages? KLM is suggesting a 20% savings in fuel, which would be remarkable. They also say the plane could use existing airports and gates, so that’s good. The young man who dreamt it all up, Justus Benad, says there’s still aerodynamic modeling to be done to determine such exotic things as will it be able to take off and land at regular airports.

Boeing's passenger-carrying hypersonic vehicle concept
Boeing’s passenger-carrying hypersonic vehicle concept. Courtesy of Boeing.

As far as why KLM would be promoting such a wild idea, well, it’s not unheard of. A year ago, Boeing announced its Mach 5 airliner, which looks like a lawn dart—a really fast and cool lawn dart. Look out, kids. And back in 2012, Lockheed Martin floated an airplane with a wing that wrapped around and joined itself above the fuselage, forming a lovely oval shape. The company quoted a 2025 target date for the project, about which we have not heard an update lately.

If one didn’t know better, one might think that airlines and airliner makers put this stuff out there to drum up free publicity. As if that would ever work.

Anyway, on the subject of airlines, like KLM, taking the lead in the design of a plane—well, it turns out that’s old hat, too. Pan Am worked with Boeing in the design process of the Boeing 747 and with Aerospatiale/BOC with the Concorde, though ultimately never bought a supersonic airliner. Lufthansa had a hand in the design of the Boeing 737, and the list could go on. And that doesn’t even cover planes developed based on military programs, like the 747, for instance.

Lockheed Martin
The box wing design by Lockheed Martin.

Other futuristic planes that will likely never fly include a windowless model championed by Emirates and a plane with standup seating being foisted on the world by British budget airline Ryanair.

But don’t laugh too quickly. Sometimes weird planes do get built. When we first saw artist concepts of the gargantuan Airbus A380, we thought, “Yeah, right. That thing will never fly.” Well, fly it did. Airbus has cancelled the program, but not before building nearly 250 of the giants.

This will never happen with the KLM/Airbus concept, though. We’ll believe this one only when we see its V-shape fly. But between us, we’d love to see it happen. Hey, even skeptics can dream.

Airbus plans to show off a scale model of the V along with a seating mockup this fall.

The post Why This Bizarre V-Shaped Plane Idea Might Just Fly appeared first on Plane & Pilot Magazine.

Airbus soon to deliver first A400M airplane to Turkey

Airbus Military, the multinational consortium building the “airlifter of the 21st century,” will deliver the first A400M to the Turkish military soon to operate at an air base in the Central Anatolian city of Kayseri

Airbus Military, the multinational consortium building what many in the defense world view as the “airlifter of the 21st century,” will deliver the first A400M to the Turkish military soon, a top company official said.

“The first aircraft for the Turkish military will be delivered in the coming weeks,” said Tom Enders, CEO of EADS, the European defense giant and parent company for Airbus Military. The Turkish A400M will operate at an air base in Kayseri, Central Turkey.

Enders was speaking at a ceremony at the Airbus Military Site in the southern Spanish city of Seville for the official delivery of the second A400M aircraft for the French military. The French Air Force took delivery of the first A400M airlifter from Airbus Military in August.

The Prince of Asrutias Felipe, crown prince and son of Spanish King Juan Carlos andFrench Defense Minister Jean Yves Le Drian were present at the ceremony. From Turkey’s end, the soon-to-be-made delivery marks the culmination of a 10-year effort as a partner country in the Airbus Military consortium. Earlier, the program overcame serious technical problems, delivery delays and budget overruns that almost saw Airbus and the partner nations scrap the program.

The handover of the first French aircraft followed the July 31 receipt of Type Acceptance at the Initial Operating Clearance standard from OCCAR, the European Organization for Joint Armament Cooperation, which has been managing the project on behalf of the seven-nation effort.

’Big success in export markets’ 

Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey and Britain joined in a program that together with export customer Malaysia has garnered 174 orders.

Enders expects “big success in export markets.” He said, “This aircraft has the potential to conquer export markets.”

The first two aircraft were delivered by Airbus to IOC (Initial Operational Clearance) standard, offering functionalities limited to logistical flights only. The third production aircraft, the aircraft for Turkey, was also built in the IOC version.

Among the other significant A400M operators, Britain is scheduled to get its first aircraft next year, and German deliveries will follow in 2015.

The turboprop aircraft has a payload capability of up to 37 tons or 116 paratroopers, and can also serve as an air-to-air tanker for fast jets and other aircraft.

Just before the first French delivery in August, EADS announced that Airbus Military’s transport and air tanker aircraft were to be merged into a new defense and space business headquartered in Munich. The military aircraft business unit will be based in Spain and include A400M, A330 tanker transports, Airbus’ share of the Eurofighter program and UAV activities.

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Aviation Expo China : Airbus vend 168 avions en 1 jour

Le 25 septembre 2013, le constructeur européen a signé des contrats avec 4 compagnies pour un total de 168 appareils. 

Qingdao Airlines, nouvelle compagnie aérienne basée dans la ville côtière de Qingdao, dans la province de Shandong à l’est de la Chine, a choisi les appareils de la famille A320 d’Airbus pour constituer sa flotte.La compagnie a signé un contrat avec Airbus portant sur l’acquisition de 23 appareils de la famille A320 au total, dont 5 A320ceo et 18 A320neo. La première livraison est prévue pour 2016. Dès 2014, la compagnie débutera ses activités avec des A320 exploités dans le cadre d’un contrat de leasing.

Zhejiang Loong Airlines, compagnie aérienne basée à Hangzhou, capitale de la Province du Zhejiang dans l’Est de la Chine, a signé un protocole d’accord portant sur 20 appareils de la famille A320 d’Airbus, dont 11 A320ceo et neuf A320neo. La compagnie a obtenu récemment l’approbation de la Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) pour ses services de transport passagers.

BOC Aviation, filiale de Bank of China spécialisée en leasing d’avions et basée à Singapour, a annoncé une nouvelle commande ferme portant sur l’acquisition de 25 appareils de la famille A320 dont 13 CEO et 12 NEO. Cette commande porte sur des A320 et des A321. BOC Aviation annoncera ultérieurement la motorisation retenue pour ces appareils.

La compagnie aérienne vietnamienne VietJetAir a signé un protocole d’accord visant à acquérir jusqu’à 92 appareils de la famille A320 et exploitera 8 appareils supplémentaires dans le cadre de contrats de leasing auprès de sociétés externes. L’accord signé aujourd’hui avec Airbus porte sur un contrat d’achat de 42 A320neo, 14 A320ceo et six A321ceo, ainsi que 30 options pour des appareils de la famille A320.

Le montant total des commandes est estimé à près de 15 milliards de dollars

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Airbus, employeur le plus attractif de France

RégionsJob vient de dévoiler son « Palmarès Employeurs 2013 ». Sans véritable surprise, c’est Airbus qui a remporté le prix tant convoité, celui de l’employeur le plus attractif de France. Sur le plan régional, l’avionneur européen a été désigné employeur le plus attractif des régions ouest et sud-ouest. Il s’agit de la troisième année consécutive qu’Airbus reçoit cette distinction. « Airbus bénéficie d’une excellente image dans son secteur, est reconnu comme étant une entreprise d’avenir, ouverte aux jeunes et offrant de réelles perspectives de carrières », a commenté l’entreprise. Quelque 8 000 personnes, salariés et demandeurs d’emploi, ont participé à cette enquête. Airbus briguait la première place parmi 14 000 entreprises évaluées entre mars et mai 2013, sur la base de 27 critères liés à la thématique RH comme les opportunités de carrière, l’image employeur, la diversité ou encore le management. Airbus emploie actuellement 59 000 personnes de plus de 100 nationalités. Par ailleurs, Eurocopter a été élu pour la deuxième année consécutive entreprise la plus attractive de la région sud-est.

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Rapport final du BEA sur l’accident de l’Airbus A330 Rio Paris

Publication du rapport final du BEA

Frédéric Cuvillier, Ministre délégué aux Transports, à la Mer et à la Pêche a pris connaissance du rapport du Bureau d’enquêtes et d’analyses pour la sécurité de l’aviation civile (BEA), sur la catastrophe aérienne de l’Airbus A330 Rio-Paris exploité par Air France. L’avion avait disparu en mer, au large des côtes brésiliennes, le 1er juin 2009.
Alors que cette enquête, exceptionnelle par sa durée et sa complexité, arrive à son terme, les pensées du Ministre vont d’abord aux victimes, et à leurs familles, dont il recevra demain matin des représentants. Il y avait à bord 228 personnes de 32 nationalités.Le BEA vient d’émettre 25 nouvelles recommandations de sécurité, adressées aux autorités compétentes, dont la Direction générale de l’aviation civile (DGAC). Le Ministre demande à la DGAC de lui soumettre dans les meilleurs délais le plan de mise en œuvre des recommandations qui la concernent directement.

Par ailleurs, il demande au BEA de lui rendre compte de l’avancée de la mise en œuvre des recommandations des autres autorités concernées.

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