Airbus recently unveiled its predictions for the aviation
industry in 2050 – a quick look and you’d be forgiven for thinking that Star
Trek was to become reality.
Aircraft glide in formation, reducing drag and
saving on fuel. On board, private cabins mingle with virtual reality rooms that
can switch from golf simulators to meeting spaces to bars at the flick of a
switch. It all looks very exciting, but the immediate future for aircraft is a
much more prosaic affair. "Aircraft manufacturers are fixed on meeting the
immediate needs of airlines," said Arun Rajagopal, an aviation blogger. "That
means a focus on reducing weight, and therefore on fuel costs." Indeed, the
most significant development in aviation over the last 20 to 30 years has been the
shift to building planes from lighter, composite materials to reduce fuel
costs. But will we really be seeing only gradual changes for the next 30 or 40
years, when the same period in the past brought us Concorde and jumbo jets?
Concepts for aviation
in 2050 under the spotlight
- Gliding descents:Airbus
suggests that passenger aircraft gliding down to land would reduce emissions
and noise, and would also allow for shorter runways.
- Transparent ceilings: According to Airbus, transparent
ceilings would allow passengers to see the sky and stars above their seats on
the airplanes of 2050.
- Virtual reality cabins: Airbus suggests that virtual reality
spaces will be on hand, able to transform cabin space into golf courses and
- Running on biofuels: Biofuels are fuels made from living
things, such as algae. Airlines see them as a way of reducing their carbon
footprint in future.
- Flying in formation: Airbus envisages future aircraft flying
in formation – lessening air resistance.
This article was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Magazine.