Date
23 August 2017
An artist's impression of a windowless cabin adds an impressive touch to this private jet. Photo: spikeaerospace.com
An artist's impression of a windowless cabin adds an impressive touch to this private jet. Photo: spikeaerospace.com

Now showing inflight: A lot of world

Would you fly in a windowless plane?

In fact, you could be on one in the not-too-distant-future at the rate technology is transforming aircraft design in the search for fuel efficiency.

So, instead of those small oval windows lining the cabin, there could be a wall of screens that project breathtaking views of the sky and everything below.

Call it inflight entertainment if you like but the applications could be limitless.

Plastic display screens for use in aircraft cabins are one of several applications of printable electronics that are being developed at the Center for Process Innovation in Sedgefield in northeast England, the Financial Times reports.

The center is part of a government network of technology centres known as “catapults”.

By using conductive inks, printed electronics – technology that has long promised to enliven products from perfume bottles to food packaging – can incorporate electrical circuits in cardboard and plastic for just a few pence per unit.

In pharmaceuticals, smart packaging could tell a patient when to take their medication, for example.

But it is the technology’s potential to help aircraft manufacturers create a windowless plane that is causing most excitement.

By replacing windows with an interactive plastic display screen, the weight of the aircraft would be reduced, helping to lower fuel costs.

“Getting weight out of a plane is a key [goal] for the industry,” says Tom Taylor,  a member of the management team.

The windowless plane is not a new concept. Freight aircraft and military jets tend not to have windows but commercial aircraft manufacturers have put off the idea until now because of concerns it would be unpopular with passengers.

However, one US aerospace company has announced plans to include a windowless cabin in its Spike S-512 Supersonic Jet, due to launch in 2018.

Vik Kachoria, president of Spike Aerospace, believes the benefits of what he calls the “multiplex digital cabin” will help win over passengers. “They will soon be able to experience a wonderful panoramic view of the outside world,” he says.

Now, that’s a lot of world.

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JL/RA

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