Windowless aircraft, the future of travel

By Efrosini Costa

Windowless aircraft, the future of travel
Could windowless aircraft be the future face of everyday overseas travel?

Imagine flying thousands of metres above land in an aircraft with no windows, but plastic display screens projecting the sky outside.

This is the technology currently being developed to aid the future of cheaper air travel.

The theory is that the technology will help significantly reduce aircraft weight and cut fuel costs.

The full-length display screens or panels, will allow passengers a constant view of the world above and below them as well as checking their email, social media channels and surfing the internet

The early-stage concept, from the Centre for Process Innovation, is based on technology currently used in mobile phones and televisions.

Large, hi-definition, ultra-thin and lightweight displays could display images via cameras mounted on the outside of the plane.

The display screens will function using a technique called printable electronics, which sees conductive inks carry electronic currents in cardboard and plastic for just a few cents per unit.

“We had been speaking to people in aerospace and we understood that there was this need to take weight out of aircraft,” said Dr Jon Helliwell of the CPI.

Helliwell explained that by putting windows into a plane, the fuselage needed to be strengthened and when omitting them in favour of walls of screens on panels, the fuselage would be lighter.

“Follow the logical thought through. Let’s take all the windows out – that’s what they do in cargo aircraft – what are the passengers going to do? If you think about it, it’s only really the people that are sitting next to windows that will suffer.”

The developers say the windowless plane could become a reality in just 10 years.

“We are talking about it now because it matches the kind of development timelines that they have in the aerospace industry.”

“So you could have a display next to a seat if you wanted it; you could have a blank area next to a seat if you wanted it; you would have complete flexibility as to where you put [the panel screens]. You could put screens on the back of the seats in the middle and link them to the same cameras.”

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