KLM and TU Delft sign unique collaboration

New products and processes tested and optimised in live situation


KLM and Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) today signed a cooperation agreement entitled Design Doing at Royal Dutch Airlines. The aim of the partnership is to develop new products and optimise existing KLM processes in a real-life operational KLM environment, in other words with real passengers at a real airport and with real aircraft. By doing so, KLM is heavily investing in the application of what is known as Design Thinking.

The agreement was signed during the Passenger Terminal Expo at Amsterdam RAI Convention Centre in the presence of TU Delft President Tim van der Hagen and KLM COO René de Groot.

Design Doing
TU Delft’s Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering and KLM have been collaborating on various projects, including optimising the customer experience at KLM, for some time now. TU Delft offers and develops knowledge in strategic design. In its day-to-day operations, KLM can offer the optimum test environment. As part of this unique working method, ideas from the design world, referred to as Design Thinking, are applied in the implementation of an organisation’s strategy. The Design Doing partnership has been established in order to formalise collaboration between TU Delft and KLM for a longer period. Two TU Delft doctoral candidates will work with students in applying design principles in KLM’s day-to-day operations.

“We are overjoyed to have a strong scientific partner such as TU Delft at our side who can help us to innovate and teach us to apply Design Thinking on a large scale. This partnership will enable us to offer our passengers even better service and comfort in the future,” says Rene de Groot, KLM’s COO.

TU Delft President Tim van der Hagen: “The collaboration with KLM offers interesting research projects for researchers and students at TU Delft. It is a great opportunity to develop knowledge of strategic design and apply it in practice at a major airline.”

The partnership is applying the ‘KLM X’ strategy of testing and optimising new products or processes in a real-life situation, with genuine passengers at a real airport and in real aircraft, rather than a laboratory setting. It is a first for the aviation industry, where it can often take years for new products to reach the customer. KLM X currently involves X-gates and X-flights and will be significantly expanded in 2017.

Creative Industry Top Sector
Since it is unique for an aviation company to invest so much in design, the partnership between KLM and TU Delft is receiving active support from the Dutch government’s Creative Industry Top Sector in the form of a Public-Private Partnership Research and Innovation premium from CLICKNL: the Dutch Creative Industries knowledge and innovation network. The Creative Industry Top Sector is one of nine sectors in the top sector policy of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, which aims to provide a sustainable boost to the Dutch economy through innovation.

More information
TU Delft: Wendy Dallinga, w.m.dallinga@tudelft.nl, +31 15 2787538 KLM: Koen van Zijl, koen.van-zijl@klm.com, +31 6 20417895