By Andrew Nusca
Posting in Design
Airbus has unveiled its vision of the future of flying in 2030: a concept plane that's sleek, slim and smart.
Aircraft manufacturer Airbus on Monday unveiled its Concept Plane, an "engineer's dream" machine that envisions the future of air transport in 2030.
The plane imagines what the airplane would look like "if advancements in existing technologies continue apace," with consideration to the design of aircraft materials, aerodynamics, cabins and engines.
The aircraft has long, slim wings, semi-embedded engines, a U-shaped tail and a lightweight, "intelligent" body that all target greater fuel efficiency, fewer emissions and less noise.
The plane was announced at the 2010 Farnborough International Airshow.
"It's not a real aircraft and all the technologies it features, though feasible, are not likely to come together in the same manner," said Airbus executive vice president of engineering Charles Champion in a statement. "Here we are stretching our imagination and thinking beyond our usual boundaries."
It's an honorable goal. The airline industry rates pretty high in terms of adverse environmental impact, and the future of green transportation often overlooks the plane for cars, buses, streetcars and high-speed trains to reduce urban congestion.
A look into the future, by Airbus:
- Seats made from ecological, self-cleaning materials that change shape for a snug fit
- Walls that become see-through at the touch of a button, allowing 360-degree views.
- Holographic projections of virtual decors, allowing travelers to transform their private cabin into an office or bedroom.
- Use of green energy sources such as fuel cells, solar panels or even our own body heat to power some aircraft systems.
- Rethinking the flight itself: aircraft may even fly in formation like birds to reduce drag, fuel burn and emissions.
Here's some of what futurologist Robin Mannings had to say in the company's official report (.pdf):
Research in nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science are providing a growing set of opportunities. Some examples include; new light and strong composite materials, electronic plastics, fuels created directly from growing plants (that are effectively scrubbing the atmosphere of unwanted carbon), smarter computer and avionics systems and transport informatics.
A key challenge will be to bring the futures of new technology, of good design and innovative business together. For example; a future aircraft will need to be much more fuel efficient and need radical approaches to engines, airframe and avionics. The needs of passengers will require inspired cabin designs with the latest display and entertainment systems and new efficient boarding methods will be needed to help older passengers. The current businesses of airlines could change to be fully integrated with other parts of the transport system to minimise delays and hassle and maximise efficiency. Passengers will demand flexibility and an end to the hassles associated with flying.
Intelligent transportation systems could organise optimal journeys so that all waste, error and delay are accounted for so that the traveller need only follow real time instructions (delivered by a personal wireless communications device that allows detailed tracking).
Airports are travel bottlenecks so a future challenge will be to find innovations to streamline the part airports and aeroplanes play in multimodal travel. People do not want endless concrete, endless traffic queues, overcrowded rail journeys and endless delays, queues and the hauling of luggage.
Self guided and remotely piloted aircraft are currently being pioneered by the military so perhaps the current model of human pilot and human air-traffic controllers may be redesigned. It seems unlikely that a passenger plane would have no pilot but a freight plane could be a candidate. Certainly if the demand for travel increases and the skies are hugely crowded, then radical new approaches to safe control and guidance will be needed. Many advances in navigation, wireless and sensor technology are predicted and research into machine learning and cognitive sciences are suggesting that in 40 years, there may be few human tasks that could not be performed by a machine.
The goal of sustainability will need new approaches to materials, recycling and manufacturing. As well as fuel efficiency, all parts of the lifecycle of aircraft will need to take account of their
environmental impact. Recycling and re-engineering may be as important as the initial manufacturing processes.
Looking to the future we can learn many lessons from nature. Biomimicry inspired mankind to follow birds into the skies and it is likely that we can copy many other tricks that nature has evolved.
Smart new materials should enable designers to create airframes that are as light as possible. Smart on the outside to aid aerodynamic and operational efficiency and smart on the inside to maximise passenger comfort and enjoyment. Electronics and computing will be integrated into the designs and it can be envisaged that computer chips will be everywhere and in almost everything.
An exciting future, indeed.
Jul 21, 2010
New planes should be designed so that boarding is in front, debarking is in back--or vice versa. With both being in front, general boarding becomes a mess--the people who get in first grab the front seats and block the aisle stowing their luggage up top while people behind them are trying to get past to get to their seats. With debarking on the opposite side from boarding, passengers will automatically go as far back (or forward) as there are empty seats, and won't clog the aisles.
If you think about it - the jet engine is the thing that is holding us from getting faster speeds for a shorter travel time. At space speeds - where the jet cannot go because of the lack of O2 - is anywhere in the world in an hour. Space speeds now are 25,000 mph.at 16 miles up. LAX to JFK is 6 minutes.LAX to Sidney is 17 minutes.
"360 degree see-through walls" probably won't happen because of all the airsick bags they would need for the people that would get vertigo from suddenly being in "mid-air" with no visible means of support. That and we will have to wait for Star Trek's "transparent aluminum". Hey SCOTTY!!
Before allowing to launch future air transport, it's a must to pass the standards of certification of quality management systems to assure that the operation is safe and legal. Registering ISO certificate is easy because an ISO 9001 registrar will lead them to the guidelines of ISO rules.
Especially when one considers the reliability problems of French technology. The French or France is one of the major components of Airbus and histoically their mechanical technology has been completely unreliable. They design beautiful, amazingly comfortable and interesting things but does anyone remember French cars, or the French Caravelle airplane, or the French Ariane rockrts . The cars didn't run very well for long, the Caravelles had a nasty habit of falling out of the air and it took years before the Arianes got mor than 500' into the atmosphere, nevermind space. NASA had it's problems but next to Ariane they looked like geniouses It might be a great idea if Boeing would build it.
this would seem to be what the teaparty people mean when they say they want their country back or wanting the original constitution back, the one that allowed slavery and counted all others at 3/5 of a person. First off, the article had nothing to do with politics or history or tea party or anything else related to politics. Secondly, people who are as ignorant as you sound from your comments should not be... well... commenting. I, for example, believe in the tea party movement, and I'm Hispanic. My beliefs have nothing to do with wanting slavery or reducing anyone to less than a whole person. I do, however, believe in the constitution and I want to bring the country back to what the founding fathers envisioned and which most people now still believe in. My guess is that, you and your ideological beliefs are threatened by the constitution and by the freedoms which were originally guaranteed to us under that constitution and the bill of rights, and therefore, you and your fellow progressives/democrats are willing to lie in order to stop the tea party movement.
no one has ever made a prediction of the future that was even close to what actually occurred or was technologically done. some of us remember the GM fururistic city that was all the rage at he 1939 worlds fair. i do not believe that anything they projected actually came into being because the technology developed in WW II and later for the space program took a quantum leap past that available in the late 1930s. their worst mistake was to picture the city of the future with few inhabitants. they never even considered the increase in the population, and what was shown was all white, not another race even existed in their future city. this would seem to be what the teaparty people mean when they say they want their country back or wanting the original constitution back, the one that allowed slavery and counted all others at 3/5 of a person.
Random thoughts: Twin vertical stabilizers are rare (new?) for aircraft this size. When was the last airliner to have semi-embedded engines? The De Havilland Comet of 1952? If you have see through walls, you won't need ordinary windows too. Travelers with private cabins? I've never even been in 1st class...
Airbus is behind the curve that Boeing has set with their Dreamliner aircraft. While Boeing was building a futuristic craft now, Airbus was building the enormous 380, the super SUV of airliners. It is about time Airbus steps up to the challenge.