When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Future

The Airplane Of The Future: Panoramic Cabin Views, Morphing Seats And Room In The Sky For Billions

Airbus engineers are coming up with startling new ideas for how planes could look – and operate – 40 years from now. By 2050, commercial aircraft may have transparent cabins, fly in formations and shuttle some 9 billion passengers.

Airbus's vitalizing zone by night - sit back and enjoy the night sky.
Airbus's vitalizing zone by night - sit back and enjoy the night sky.
Michael Donhauser

Stale dry air, narrow seats, jammed overhead compartments: today's air passenger has to be a real flying nut to think plane travel is any fun. But engineers at European manufacturer Airbus say they're working on ways to improve things. Implementing the changes will probably take up to four decades, but they assure us the result willA be more than worth the wait.

Flying in 2050 is going to be a real pleasure, the manufacturer says, with a 360-degree panoramic view whenever the "intelligent cabin membrane" is set on transparent, and a virtual golf course on board. Realistic projects, or overactive imaginations? "Engineers dream too," says Charles Champion, Airbus head of development. The Frenchman also points out that some of those dreams are already being implemented and may be launched in as little as 10 years from now.

One of the new ideas engineers are currently playing with involves harvesting passenger body heat to meet some of the plane's energy needs. Another idea refers to seats being upholstered with self-cleaning fabrics that adapt to each individual body form.

The first, business and economy class system would be abandoned: "It's not what people want," Champion says. Instead, there would be individual seating arrangements.

Innovations would by no means stop there. In the "vitalizing zone," for example, the air would be vitamin-enriched, while in the "interaction zone," passengers could enjoy virtual games of golf high up over the clouds, or go shopping and try on the latest fashions in virtual changing cabins. Through the cabin's transparent membrane, passengers would be able to gaze at the mountain peaks below them, and would be given information about the name of each summit and its exact height. State of the art communication with the ground would mean that business people could take part in video conferences at 33,000 feet, and that Mom or Dad could read bed time stories to their kids back home.

This cabin of the future—whose shape was modeled after birds—is part of Airbus's total concept for 2050. CEO Thomas Enders says the company expects the demand for aircraft to go up worldwide despite on-going problems faced by many airlines, particularly in Europe.

"Air travel continues to hold more long-term growth potential than virtually any other sector," Enders told the German newspaper "Welt am Sonntag." According to Airbus figures, air travel currently makes up 8%, or 580 billion dollars worth of the European gross domestic product. The sector employs 33 million people worldwide.

Airbus engineer Champion says that the three biggest current challenges are "that people want flying to be cheap, efficient and environmentally friendly." The sector has to find satisfactory answers to those demands, which is why flying will probably look completely different a few decades down the road. "By 2050, the sector will be hauling 9 billion passengers around the world," Champion says.

All that additional traffic will be possible thanks to new safety technologies that will enable companies to increase the number of flights fivefold. And instead of flying solo, planes could fly in formation and dock during flights to save on fuel. Airbus developers are even toying with the idea of huge airborne aircraft carriers that passenger planes could land on and be transported by.

Airbus' visions for airports of the future no longer include gates. Instead, planes would roll right up – subway style – to a station, with passengers boarding quickly through several doors with touch screens for the check in. Luggage would be put on a conveyor and stored in the cabin.

If Champion sees a sticking point, it concerns the airports themselves: "We can come up with all kinds of great stuff, but when a plane has to circle for 40 minutes over Heathrow before landing, a lot of it gets lost."

Read the original article in German.

Photo - Airbus

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Geopolitics

A Ukrainian In Belgrade: The Straight Line From Milosevic To Putin, And Back Again

As hostilities flare again between Serbia and Kosovo, the writer draws connections between the dissolutions of both the USSR and Yugoslavia, and the leaders who exploit upheaval and feed the worst kind of nationalism.

On the streets of Belgrade, Serbia

Anna Akage

-Analysis-

At high school in Kyiv in the late 1990s, we studied the recent history of Yugoslavia: the details of its disintegration, the civil wars, the NATO bombing of Belgrade. When we compared Yugoslavia and the USSR, it seemed evident to us that if Boris Yeltsin or Mikhail Gorbachev had been anything like Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic, bloody wars would have been unavoidable for Ukraine, Belarus, and other republics that instead had seceded from the Soviet Union without a single shot being fired.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Fast forward to 2020, when I visited Belgrade for the first time, invited for a friend's wedding. Looking around, I was struck by the decrepit state of its roads, the lack of any official marked cabs, by the drudgery, but most of all by the tension and underlying aggression in society. It was reflected in all the posters and inscriptions plastered on nearly every street. Against Albania, against Kosovo, against Muslims, claims for historical justice, Serbian retribution, and so on. A rather beautiful, albeit by Soviet standards, Belgrade seemed like a sleeping scorpion.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ