A scale model of a futuristic V-shaped plane that could one day carry passengers in its wings has completed its first test flight.
The Dutch-built jet, called the Flying-V, houses the cargo hold, fuel tanks and passenger cabin in the wings to cut fuel consumption.
Its quirky design is said to lower fuel usage by up to 20 percent compared to conventional aircraft.
Researchers tested an uncrewed, 3-meter (10-foot) scale model of the airplane earlier this summer at a guarded airbase in Germany.
Engineers at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands worked with Airbus to test takeoffs, landings and aerial maneuvers.
“One of our worries was that the aircraft might have some difficulty lifting off, since previous calculations had shown that ‘rotation’ could be an issue,” said project leader Dr. Roelof Vos of Delft University.
“The team optimized the scaled flight model to prevent the issue but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. You need to fly to know for sure.”
The test largely went as planned, with researchers achieving a takeoff speed of 50 mph and performing all maneuvers correctly.
The plane’s thrust was good and flight speeds and angles were as predicted, Delft University said in a statement last week.
One issue that cropped up was the landing, which was rougher than expected.
The current design leads to too much “Dutch roll,” an aerodynamic fault that causes the plane to move from side to side.
Were any passengers on board, the crew would have needed a few extra air sickness bags.
Researchers say they’ll use data from the test flight to build a digital model of the Flying-V that they can plug into flight simulators for future tests.
They’re also preparing the scale model for future test flights.
The Flying-V was developed at Delft University and is partly funded by Airbus and Dutch airline KLM.
The aircraft is designed to be highly energy-efficient over long distances.
Eventually, the team hope to build a full-size version measuring 180 feet long and with a whopping 210-foot wingspan.
The craft would carry up to 314 passengers. There’s currently no date on when to expect a first manned flight.