Windowless planes could be a reality in less than 10 years

27 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.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.

Windows would be replaced with ultra-thin and highly-flexible screens that would display outside scenery captured by cameras attached to the plane’s exterior or act as a personal touch screen computer. The Centre for Process Innovation is proposing the elimination of airplane cabin windows to make room for floor to ceiling wraparound screens showing continuous footage from outside the plane. 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. 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. 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. Let’s take all the windows out—that’s what they do in cargo aircraft.” To keep people in “window” seats happy, and minimize general feelings of claustrophobia, CPI wants to use cameras mounted on the exteriors of planes and flexible OLED screens on the interior walls to project real-time footage of what’s going on outside all over the cabin. Although there are no firm plans yet to build the plane, with a growing number of companies committing their ideas to the drawing board, the development of the windowless plane may just be a matter of time.

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. Internal tracking cameras could be used to project the image onto the screen from the point of view of the passenger- moving the image in accordance with the movements of the passenger’s head. 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.

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