Technology and the Future of Air Travel
Sleeping pods, supersonic planes, self-cleaning lavatories and floating airports- what do astronomical leaps in technology mean for the future of air travel?
It’s the year 2016 and technological advancement is inevitable. Although it can be somewhat scary, it’s also exciting- especially in the world of travel. The industry is changing every day and sometimes it’s hard to keep up, so we’re here to help you out! Listed below are a few things we can expect to see in the upcoming years. Just a fair warning: you may have to pick your jaw up off the floor..
The Air Lair
Sick of bumping elbows and awkward sleeping positions? The sardine-feeling you get on an overcrowded plane could finally be a thing of the past with Factory Design’s Air Lair. The Air Lair is a personalized private sleeping pod that immerses premium travelers in a futuristic cocoon with adjustable light, sound and temperature. Long flights are no longer an inconvenience with an over-head projector providing entertainment and a lay-flat seat providing extraordinary comfort. Although the Air Lair will most likely be a “first-class” concept, other designs explore the benefits of adding sleeping rooms in standard aircraft cabins. See pictures and learn more about Factory Design’s Air Lairs here.
Fly from New York to London in (theoretically) 11-minutes on industrial designer Charles Bombardier’s new concept plane the Antipode. Sound impossible? In simplest terms, the Antipode would be powered by a scramjet engine- an engine with virtually no moving parts that burn oxygen from the atmosphere instead of having to carry heavy tanks full of oxygen. The Antipode’s wings would be equipped with rocket boosters that propel the aircraft to 40,000 feet, enabling it to reach Mach 5 using the aerodynamic technique called long penetration mode. Long penetration mode, or LPM, uses a nozzle on the aircraft’s nose to blow out air and cool down the surface temperature- solving the heat problem (1800 degrees Fahrenheit) that is inevitable when objects travel past Mach 5. If this concept becomes a reality, the Antipode should be able to carry 10 passengers up to 12,430 miles in under 1 hour. There’s obviously a lot of safety issues and concerns that need to be addressed, but the potential of the supersonic plane is pretty mind-blowing. Learn more about the Antipode concept here.
The Self-Cleaning Lavatory
Germophobes rejoice, Boeing may have solved the dirty bathroom issue once and for all with their patent-pending self-cleaning lavatory prototype. The prototype uses ultraviolent light to kill 99.99% of all lavatory germs in 3-seconds, after every use. Boeing engineers claim the “Far UV light” is not harmful to humans and will only be activated when the lavatory is unoccupied. The lights would be positioned so that the rays flood surfaces like the toilet seat, sink and counter tops, minimizing the growth and potential transmission of harmful micro-organisms. The design also incorporates a hands-free faucet, soap dispenser, trash flap, toilet lid/seat and hand dryer, with a hands-free door latch and a vacuum vent system for the floor under consideration. Learn more about Boeing’s self-cleaning lavatory here.
The London Britannia “Floating Airport”
Airports require a lot of space, things that islands and large cities lack. How do get around geographical limitations? Architecture firm Gensler and Thames Estuary Research and Development (Testrad) are attempting to beat the system by proposing a $63 billion 6-runway “floating airport” over the waters of the Thames Estuary. In Gensler’s proposal, the runways would stretch parallel to each other on both sides of a central core where the main terminal would be located. Underwater tunnels for high-speed rail connections would provide transportation from the airport to dry land. Although building in water sounds challenging compared to building on land, the firm claims that doing so will help them get around the lengthy and costly process of gathering the land needed for a project of this size. The fate of the “floating airport” is currently undecided, due to a delay following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. Learn more about the London Britannia “Floating Airport” here.
New products and projects are popping up everyday in the world of aviation. The highly dynamic industry continues to be transformed as the technological and innovative capabilities of companies continue to grow. If you are unsure whether these concepts will come into fruition, you can definitely count on one thing- the future of air travel is pretty exciting!