SEOUL -- Dutch carrier KLM hopes to debut a prototype of a fuel-efficient V-shaped aircraft at its 100th birthday celebration on Oct. 7.

Engineers believe the so-called "Flying-V" would be 20% more efficient than today's most advanced widebody, the Airbus A350, due to its improved aerodynamic shape and reduced weight. That calculation is based upon the assumption that such an aircraft would use the same engine types as the A350.

Still, don't expect this plane in the skies anytime soon. Ultimately, it would be the aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing or Airbus that would have to build it. Design, certification and bringing such a concept to market would easily take 15 years, said Henry Werij, dean of the aerospace engineering faculty at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

"I hope I'm showing you a glimpse of how the future of aviation might look," Werij said during a joint press conference with KLM CEO Pieter Elbers at the IATA Annual General Meeting on Sunday. During the press conference, the two men signed an agreement to work together on aviation sustainability projects. Elbers declined to reveal terms of the agreement, other than saying that it will involve KLM providing funding to Delft. 

The "Flying V" design integrates the cabin, the cargo hold and the fuel tanks in the aircraft's wings. An engine is located on the interior side of each wing. 

The wingspan would be as long as the A350, enabling the plane to use existing gates and hangars. The concept envisions the aircraft having the same standard passenger load of 314 as the A350 as well as the same amount of cargo space. 

Still, such a craft would be smaller than the A350 overall, giving it less aerodynamic resistance, Werij said.


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