Windowless planes less than a decade away

28 Oct 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

Airliner of the future? UK firm shows windowless plane concept.

For many, the frustration of queues at the airport and then that guy who fully reclines his seat on the plane disappears when you look out the aircraft window to take in the breath-taking scenery below.

A UK tech firm has displayed its concept for what the next generation of passenger jets could look like – with the small, porthole-style windows ditched in favor of full-length interactive screens.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. According to the conceptual designs, passengers are surrounded with large, lightweight displays which form around the cabin’s interior, displaying images of the outside world from exterior-mounted cameras, London-based daily the Guardian reported on Sunday.

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. Yet for reasons best known to them, airline passengers like to be able to look out of a porthole while zooming down the runway or flying over a mountain range.

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.

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. … However, with newer technology allowed flexible screens, OLEDs will soon be suitable displays to fit the rounded contours of an aircraft fuselage, Helliwell said. 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. 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. 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.

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