The Dutch national airline is working on a fuel-efficient prototype “Flying-V” aircraft.

KLM has teamed up with Delft University of Technology in a bid to design a more fuel-efficient long distance plane.

The aircraft’s futuristic v-shaped design will integrate the passenger cabin, the cargo hold and the fuel tanks in the wings, the Dutch flag carrier said in a news release.

“Its improved aerodynamic shape and reduced weight will mean it uses 20 per cent less fuel than the Airbus A350, today’s most advanced aircraft,” the airline wrote.

“Although the plane is not as long as the A350, it does have the same wingspan. This will enable the Flying-V to use existing infrastructure at airports, such as gates and runways, without difficulty and the aircraft will also fit into the same hangar as the A350.”

The “Flying-V” was conceived by Justus Benad, then a student at the Technical University of Berlin, and is expected to enter service between 2040 and 2050, according to CNN.

The proposed KLM craft will carry the same number of passengers, 314, as the A350.

The “Flying-V” will be smaller than the A350, giving it less drag in the air, KLM said.

Everything in the aircraft has to also be as light as possible to maximize the efficiency gain the new shape provides, it said.

“The Flying-V has less inflow surface area compared to the available amount of volume,” said Dr. Roelof Vos , project leader at TU Delft.

“The result is less resistance. That means the Flying-V needs less fuel for the same distance.”

The “Flying-V” is propelled by the most fuel-efficient turbofan engines that currently exist, KLM wrote.

The present design flies on kerosene, but can be adapted to make use of innovations in propulsion technology by using electrically-boosted turbofans, for example.

“Radically new and highly energy-efficient aircraft designs such as the Flying-V are important in this respect, as are new forms of propulsion,” Professor Henri Werij, dean of the faculty of aerospace engineering at TU Delft, said.

“Our ultimate aim is one of emission free flight.”

A flying scale model and a full-size section of the interior of the “Flying-V” will be presented at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in October to mark KLM’s 100th anniversary.

“We are proud of our progressive cooperative relationship with TU Delft, which ties in well with KLM’s strategy and serves as an important milestone for us on the road to scaling-up sustainable aviation,” KLM president and chief executive Pieter Elbers said.

Global aviation is responsible for about 2.5 per cent of total CO2 emissions, KLM claims.

“This percentage is set to increase rapidly as the number of kilometres passengers travel each year is growing at about 4.5 to 5 per cent per year - we're flying increasingly often and increasingly far,” KLM said.