Science Scope

Welcome to the airplane of the future

Welcome to the airplane of the future

Posting in Design

Airbus turns to science to design the cabin of the future.

The last time you boarded a plan you probably frantically shoved your carry on into any overhead space you could find, squashed your legs into the seat and tried, desperately, to fall asleep. Air travel, for most of us, isn't exactly the lap of luxury. But Airbus wants to change that. They've released images of what they're calling a "concept cabin" - the airplane cabin on the future.

The Smithsonian writes:

The concept plane, which they hope resembles the real Airbus models of 2050, takes biomimicry as a guiding principle for the design of forms and materials. The most noticeable aspect of this approach is in the fuselage, which, instead of being wrapped in opaque steel, is composed of a web-like network of structural material that looks a bit like a skeleton. In fact, that’s exactly what it should remind you of, because it’s inspired by the bone structure of birds.

And, if the biomimicry doesn't do it for you, the production process might. Much of the frame might be printed, rather than fabricated, using 3-D printers. The electrical system will be networked through the plane to respond to climate conditions and operate wirelessly. But wait, there's more! Smithsonian:

All of these strategies—the lightweight structure, waste-free manufacturing, and wireless electrical systems—can contribute to reductions in emissions and fuel use. The cumulative effect of using fewer resources for each plane could result in a massive overall improvement in aviation’s environmental impact. In that vein, the Airbus concept plane is one of the few instances (at least for now), where the term “organically grown” refers not to food, but to seating. The seats of the plane will potentially be composed of plant-based biomaterials which go a few leaps past memory foam toward smart materials that form to and remember the body’s optimal position.

But the coolest thing about this future airbus, is that it would totally change the experience of flying. No more staring at the back of the seat in front of you, or, if you're lucky, out a tiny porthole window. The future airbuses are full of huge spaces to see through both above and below you. "It’s almost enough to make you forget you’re trapped inside a pressurized container six vertical miles above your home planet" Smithsonian writes.

Not recommended for those with a fear of heights, I'd say.

Via: Smithsonian Magazine

Image: Airbus

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Rose Eveleth

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Rose Eveleth is a freelance writer, producer and designer based in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, OnEarth, Discover, New York Times, Story Collider and Radiolab. She holds degrees from the University of California, San Diego and New York University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure