Friday, June 17, 2011

Air Travel in 2050

Air travel is plagued with frustration at the moment with travellers stranded as volcanic dust particles whirl overhead.

I love the irony that a 1940s DC3 has been dusted off and is providing a valuable low-flying link below the dust plume as modern jet engined aircraft are grounded.

Hopefully air travel will not be held hostage by nature in the future and according to Airbus, their futuristic 2050 aspiration will be worth waiting for:
Airbus has released details of its "cabin of the future" design, which it hopes to make real by 2050.
The new plane has an extraordinary see-through cabin, which will open up the skies - and cities and landscapes thousands of feet below - to passengers.

The "intelligent" wall membrane of the cabin becomes transparent at the wave of a hand and could also change according to light conditions.

New seats are sensitive to passengers' body shapes and needs, offering massages, drinks and even a sea breeze or the aroma of a forest.

Holographic pop-up gaming displays and in-flight entertainment will be powered by the heat of passengers’ bodies.

The aircraft will be built using a bionic structure that mimics the bone structure of birds.
"Bone is both light and strong because its porous interior carries tension only where necessary, leaving space elsewhere," the company said in its website.

"By using bionic structures, the fuselage has the strength it needs, but can also make the most of extra space where required. This not only reduces the aircraft's weight and fuel burn, but also makes it possible to add features like oversized doors for easier boarding and panoramic windows."

The cabin's bionic structure will be coated with a biopolymer membrane, which controls the amount of natural light, humidity and temperature, providing transparency on command and eliminating the need for windows.

Airbus has compared the cabin's electrical system to that of the human brain, with "a network of intelligence pulsating through the cabin".

Materials used in the cabin would be self-cleaning and even self-repairing. 
Unfortunately there is no official word if this aircraft will be able to operate through volcanic ash cloud.

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