The future of aircraft design is a topic that has always been capable of producing a great deal of debate, ever since the dawn of the aviation industry when the first flights were made back at the start of the 20th century. And while most of us tend to think that the conventional shape of a passenger airplane will remain the template for many decades to come, there are some who are really thinking outside of the box.
Whether the goal is to increase long distance travel, reduce fuel consumption or move to electric power, for those who possess true innovation, it’s safe to assume that anything and everything could be possible.
For example, for many years, Airbus has been talking about the benefits of a plane with transparent walls. This will enable passengers to enjoy some spectacular views of the clouds, the skies and of course a greater area of land beneath them. It’s perhaps fair to assume that the majority of passengers would be happy to see more than currently available through small windows. The concept is an interesting one, but it may not be seen as such by people who have a fear of flying.
Commercial aircraft of the future will undoubtedly provide a more interactive environment for passengers, enabling greater communication with families and friends back on terra firma, and will offer far more in the way of on-board entertainment and gaming. Relaxation and socialising will generally be more enjoyable, especially so in business and first-class areas. Even those in the economy sections will also find air travel more user-friendly.
Aside from the more aesthetic side of plane design, the way in which these crafts are powered is likely to change dramatically in the coming decades. We’ve become increasingly used to seeing electric cars on our roads, and electric passenger airplanes are well on their way to becoming an all too common reality. And as far as environmentalists are concerned, the electric revolution can’t come quickly enough.
Electric planes of the future could be arriving sooner than you thought
In July 2021, United Airlines announced the purchase of 100 electric planes in an important step towards a more sustainable option for regional flights. The ES-19, sold by Sweden’s Heart Aerospace, has 19 seats for passengers and will be suitable for smaller city airports because it won’t require long runways for take-off and landing. As well as being far kinder to the environment, the manufacturers claim that the ES-19 will reduce maintenance costs by up to 90% and cut fuel costs by at least half.
On a different scale altogether are the possibilities opened up by the introduction of hypersonic aircraft. These might not be as environmentally friendly as the ES-19 but they will be incredibly quick. The speed of sound is around the 767mph mark, but Boeing is currently developing a hypersonic plane that can travel at speeds of up to 3,900mph. They’re also capable of flying at an altitude of 90,000, way above today’s passenger planes.
Imagine being able to fly from London to New York in an hour, or to Sydney in just six. Speeds that were once thought impossible are starting to become potential realities in the 21st century.
One exception to the environmentally friendly conundrum could be the Overture, a 65-88 seater passenger plane that’s being developed to run on sustainable aviation biofuel in a 100% net-zero way. It won’t be as fast as the Boeing plane currently on the drawing board, but the promise of green air travel is understandably seen as a powerful plus point. Certainly, the stats (1,100 mph speed, 60,000ft altitude and 4,890-mile range) make this a highly viable possibility for airlines to consider. And to please the aesthetes, it also looks similar in design to the much-missed Concorde.
Amid all the changes that are coming our way in the next decades, the need for safe and secure airport environments will always be of paramount importance. Here at Scarecrow, alongside our parent company Robin Radar Systems, we continue to develop highly effective, user-friendly bird detection, monitoring, reporting and dispersal equipment for airports in all parts of the world. To find out more about our products and services, contact the team today on 01825 766363.