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Airbus’s view on flying, 2050 style

written by australianaviation.com.au | June 19, 2011
Airbus's Concept Cabin

Airbus has unveiled a new concept of how flying could look in 2050 with its Concept Cabin.

Airbus says the Concept Cabin features a “bionic structure [that] mimics the efficiency of bird bone which is optimised to provide strength where needed, and allows for an intelligent cabin wall membrane which controls air temperature and can become transparent to give passengers open panoramic views”.

It would also feature “an integrated ‘neural network’ creating an intelligent interface between passenger and plane”, plus “personalised zones [which] replace the traditional cabin classes … to offer new tailored levels of experience. The ‘vitalising zone’ is all about wellbeing and relaxation allowing you to proactively recharge your batteries with vitamin and antioxidant enriched air, mood lighting, aromatherapy and acupressure treatments whilst taking in the infinite view of the world around you.”

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Comments (5)

  • Femi Animashaun


    Unbridled opulence!!

  • Martin


    That artists impression doesn’t give me the impression of being “optimised to provide strength where needed”. The cabin layout also still looks fairly conventional… lets see what is around in 2050 and how close to the mark this Airbus vision really was.

  • James Garth


    This is what you get when you let marketeers loose without consulting engineers! Its skin concept relies on the invention of a radical, as-yet unknown material, with unknown strength properties (but presumably a higher Ftu than current composites or metallics), yet still somehow completely transparent. I wonder how this unknown material will hold up to bird strikes. What are its stiffness properties? Is it brittle or flexible? How does it handle fatigue cycles? There will be weight increases by carrying canisters of ‘vitamin and antioxidants’ to enrich the air”. And weight will be added by whatever system enables: “hand luggage [to be] swallowed at the entrance, and reappears beside you for easy access”. How is this done? What system of conveyer belts and apertures will handle this? How much does it weigh? The seats are “organically grown” and components are “3d printed” – but are their resins stronger than our current materials? Do they stand up to 9g crash cases? All of this weight increase will presumably need to be offset by a radical boost in propulsion efficiency. Will passengers be prepared to pay premiums for these ‘personalized zones’ if they are less volumetrically efficient than a standard cabin layout, which realistically hasn’t changed in 60 years of civil aviation (ie. 707 vs A350). Will an adjacent passenger be irritated if his neighbour presses the button that sniffs out “the soft aroma of a pine forest” (another system that relies on carrying more fragrance canisters)? Developing this aircraft will require loads of embedded energy, yet amazingly it still “looks after the environment”. And how long will the queue for the VR golf game be? Please. Developments are evolutionary, not revolutionary – I predict in 2050 we will be flying in subsonic, tube-and-wings designs with minor, incremental improvements in airfoil and engine efficiency, with more robust communications and on-board data processing capability. This concept belongs in the sci-fi bin along with Jetsons-style flying cars and anything else that utterly disgregards the laws of physics.

  • A dose of reality


    Economic and physical realities will mean that this vision will remain just a pipe dream – from an opium pipe. While it is concievable that nanotechnology might deliver the materials that would make some parts of this idea physically possible, economic realities and the inherent (and necessary) conservatism of the aviation industry will mean that those materials will most likely not be used in airliners. The main problem is that passengers just won’t pay for it.

    As James says, airliners haven’t changed significantly in design since the 1930’s because all the designs that don’t look like the current ones have proven to have significant problems. Bilogicaly inspired structures? Concievable but unlikely. See-through aircraft skins? Not unless nanotechnology hurries up. Fragrance enhanced personal zones? Don’t hold your breath.

  • Andy


    Clearly the cockpit is at the back or its being remoted because there isn’t one in the picture!

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