Are windowless planes the future of travel?
(CNN) — Could you drop off to sleep in a windowless plane?
Instead of real-life views of clouds and sky, passengers will peer out of “virtual windows,” enjoying projected views of the world passing by.
Window to the world
The “windows” use real-time fibre-optic camera technology to provide virtual views of the outside world.
Since the designs were unveiled, the airline’s choice to abandon windows has been a conversation starter in the aviation world.
Not everyone is convinced by the idea of windowless aircraft.
“Windowless airplanes would be great in an ideal world from an engineering standpoint — however, in reality, it won’t happen for a number of reasons.
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“For starters, in the event of an emergency, cabin crew often need to look out for reference points to coordinate evacuations. Having visual as well as spatial awareness is vital and in a windowless jet, they don’t exist — especially if there is an electrical fault which then means that the “electric” windows do not work and you can’t see outside.”
Ahmad also echoes Carlioz’s concerns about passenger comfort.
Ahmad also posits a move towards windowless planes would involve new regulation and testing.
“There are also regulatory issues too — the level of change involved would certainly require new tests relating to system redundancy, evacuation, fire suppression as well as pressurization and other stress-related engineering changes.”
Other futuristic aircraft design are going the opposite way and embracing larger windows.
Boeing’s Dreamliner — its most modern clean sheet design — features large windows. Airbus has also designed a cabin with transparent walls, presented at the 2011 Paris Air Show.
Embraer has devised the Kyoto cabin, designed for its Lineage 1000E aircraft, which features large panoramic windows running along the majority of the lateral walls of the cabin.
There could also be a move towards pilotless planes in the future — but Ahmad applies his skepticism about windowless planes to drone-flown planes too:
“The idea [of windowless planes] is possible — that doesn’t mean it will happen,” says Ahmad. “The same applies with drone technology — but that doesn’t mean that tomorrow we’re suddenly going to see all freighter airplanes being flown without pilots.”