​Blue sky thinking – designers sought to create windowless aeroplanes

28 Oct 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

New windowless plane where you can have your head in the clouds (VIDEO).

DESIGNING commercial aircraft would be a whole lot easier if manufacturers didn’t have to consider the pesky customers. Vague, over-wing cloud photos are a staple of vacation albums across the Internet, but a British technology incubator wants to do away with them completely.The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) has shown how a plane’s interior could be lined with ultralight, ultrathin displays which display images from the outside of the plane.

A UK company is set to revolutionise the future of commercial air travel with a windowless plane that allows passengers to choose panoramic views of the world around them or swipe a touch screen to surf the internet or check their email from 35,000ft.In a sneak-preview of what the next generation of air travel would look like in almost 10 years, windows would be replaced by full-length smart screens which allow people to see outside whenever they wish.

Plans show how large, hi-definition, ultra thin and lightweight displays could form the inside of the fuselage, displaying images of outside from cameras mounted on the plane’s exterior. CPI, based in north east England, believes the idea will quickly take off as planes without windows are much lighter than planes with them, and as airlines battle to save money and fuel, cost is one of their main considerations. The goal of the proposal is to reduce how much commercial aircraft bodies, or fuselages, weigh thereby also reducing fuel consumption, costs, and carbon emissions. Passengers in the ‘window seat’ would be able to choose their view or use the full-length screens as an in-flight entertainment system, while those with middle or aisle seats would be able to access the futuristic system on a screen embedded in the head rest in front of them. Let’s take all the windows out – that’s what they do in cargo aircraft – what are the passengers going to do This would be created using organic light-emitting diodes ( OLEDs), which is a combination of materials that give out their own light when activated by electricity.

Windows add weight to aircraft cabins because of both the materials used to make them, and the additional components that must be added to the hull to strengthen and secure it. Company spokesman Dr Jon Helliwell told The Mirror that the idea could become a reality in 10 years and was simply a matter of fine-tuning the OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology that makes the “digital wallpaper” come to life. In addition to providing entertainment, the screens fitted directly into the fuselage or into the wall panels, would provide subtle cabin lighting from gently glowing walls and could be switched on or off.

Jon Helliwell of CPI told the Guardian, “We had been speaking to people in aerospace and we understood that there was this need to take weight out of aircraft. … CPI said the fuselage would be lighter without windows and that would translate into fuel savings, fewer harmful emissions and lower operating costs for airlines. Based in north-east England, CPI is a member of the UK’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult, which is aimed at spurring development in new and emerging technologies. Instead, a high-resolution digital display, made up of panels running the entire length of the cabin wall, would project the image from outside the plane, captured by external cameras.

Spike Aerospace from the US is also aiming to re-launch supersonic flights between New York and London (the last commercial flight by Concorde was in October 2003) in 2018, and expects its aircraft to be built without windows. According to CPI’s blurb, the system could correct the displayed images for parallax, which would: …increase the sensation of looking out of a window, rather than looking at a projected image. Although most of us are used to windows on planes, cargo planes have never had windows in them, just ask any soldier who has been airlifted in a military transport. CPI doesn’t seem to be offering a specific estimate of how much weight it could reduce by eliminating windows, but it says that fuselages could be thinner and stronger through the process, which could mean wider seats.

Some of the logistics are unclear, but it looks like CPI’s design would allow the person in the “window” seat to control the view and vantage point for the wall screen next to their seat. Even with the possibility of outside cameras on the fuselage, in the event of engine failure or loss of hydraulics and electrics, sometimes the only way to find out what’s gone wrong is to dash down the plane and look out of one of the windows, as any pilot would tell you. Even better, it will mean the end of that jealous moment when you realise that the other side of the plane is enjoying a particularly stunning view over London or the Golden Gate Bridge while you are only have sky to stare at; the windowless plane can just project the same view to both sides of the aisle.

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