When Boeing introduced its commercial 767 Dreamliner, passengers on long haul flights could observe a marked reduction in fatigue and jet lag. The credit goes to the aircraft’s big windows that reduce motion sickness and the LED lighting that stimulates sunrise and sunset across time zones to ease jet lag effects.
Working on more advanced features, UK-based Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) has developed what could become the world’s first windowless aircraft – and this is likely to hit the runway in ten years’ time. Even better, French company Technicon Design has already begun testing its windowless aircraft called the IXION Windowless Jet Concept. And if the concept of a windowless aircraft sounds like a nightmare, it’s time to rid yourself of the fear for you can enjoy a worldview as you soar through the air.
How much windowless is windowless?
This decade-away-in-the-making aircraft will have the entire length of windows replaced by full-length OLED screens displaying panoramic views captured by cameras placed on the aircraft’s exterior. The same screens can be used to provide in-flight entertainment and internet access.
This can be achieved by lining the cabin and seatbacks with smart display screens that tantalize the visual senses with a panoramic view of the outside that come from a set of cameras mounted to the plane’s exterior. And for those who don’t want to witness the outside view and landscape from different angles, they can flick over to the usual in-flight entertainment or order meals through touch screen menu cards.
In addition to providing entertainment, the screens fitted directly into the fuselage or into the wall panels provide subtle cabin lighting from gently glowing walls that can be switched on or off. Such lighting effects from these panels can help offset jet lag by allowing passengers to control color changes associated with sunrise and sunset. This system is extremely effective for long haul passengers to adjust to time zone changes.
Going windowless is advantageous
Removing windows negates the need for heavy housing and reduces the weight of an airplane, in turn cutting down on fuel consumption. Industry figures show that for every 1% reduction in weight of an aircraft, fuel costs go down by 0.75% which results in a significant drop in carbon dioxide emissions.
More so, a windowless aircraft helps create more cabin room which translates into greater leg room for travelers.
Projecting the unreal
A windowless aircraft can utilize its screens to accommodate other scenes to provide passengers a three-dimensional view that makes it seem like they’re flying through a beach, the Amazon rainforest, over Paris overlooking the Eiffel Tower, or even away from Earth to the space beyond.
But the futuristic technology doesn’t end there; the images displayed will also change in accordance with passengers’ head movements.
The technology is still not fully developed and there are major challenges to fulfill such as producing bendable OLEDs of such sizes (Read: How graphene can help make such OLEDs come to reality). Once the engineers overcome these challenges it is expected for bigger players in market to file both utility and design patents to mark their intellectual territories in the aviation industry.
(Featured image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_DC-8)