Airbus generated a lot of attention yesterday when it released plans for the airplane of 2050 in advance of next week’s Paris Airshow.
Created as more of a thought experiment than a definitive model, the plans for the concept plane were based on a survey of 10,000 people’s hopes for the plane of the future.
Many of those surveyed were young fliers who will be the air travelers of 2050.
The youthful enthusiasm of those surveyed can be seen in the plans, which seem to allow for limitless technological advances in the next 39 years.
Sustainability is a major theme in the aircraft: 100 percent recyclable, the plane would be made not with plastic or metal but with a lightweight composite material.
The plane, now shaped liked a soda bottle with wings built to reduce drag, would use biofuel, with engines positioned in the rear of the plane to minimize engine noise.
Passengers’ body heat would be used to power the in-flight entertainment.
Most of the technology proposed for the plane isn’t close to being developed. The plane calls for a neural network built into the fuselage instead of cables. The passengers would interact with that neural network for entertainment and to customize their experience.
Seats are planed to adapt perfectly to a traveler’s body. The plane would have a transparent web-like fuselage that would give passengers full panoramic views of the whole flying experience. It is worth noting that none of the plans for the plane detail where the cockpit would be located.
Airbus sees the plane as a starting point for innovation, but not as a plan for the next generation of aircraft. Statements to the press from Airbus didn’t include information about which of the technologies the airline is planning to invest in.
Learn about the near-term future of flying with Aviation Consultant Michael Boy on NextGen and the Future of Flying
Interestingly, most reviews criticized the proposed economics of the plane and not the feasibility. Flights would be free, financed by an air casino and entertainment earnings.
The coach to first-class seating system is also eliminated.
Instead of seats, the plane would be organized by zone with a “vitalizing zone” where you can relax and rest, an “interactive zone” with a holographic gaming area, shopping and a bar, and a “smart tech zone” where you can virtually conference into home or work from the plane. Passengers would be free to move from zone to zone based on their needs.
Currently, 40 percent of airline profits come from the 12 percent of passengers traveling in the premium seats.
Critics question which airline would interested in investing in a plane that removes the most profitable part of their business and replaces it with holographic gaming.
By Lily J. Kosner for PeterGreenberg.com.
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