Airbus has released new artwork of a concept airliner displaying what it thinks passenger jets might look like by 2050.
The concept features some striking departures from current generation aircraft, including partially embedded engines nestled between ultra-long wings and a sweeping, U-shaped tail. More strikingly, passengers would be able to stare out into the firmament through a lightweight, semi-transparent fuselage membrane, all from the comfort of morphing seats capable of harvesting body heat for power. Seating classes, meanwhile, would be replaced by personalised passenger areas known as ‘Vitalising,’ ‘SmartTech’ and ‘Interactive’ zones.
The concept design, released this weekend ahead of the Farnborough Airshow, came alongside the results of a two-year study by Airbus on what passengers want from the future of air travel.
The results, based on survey responses by 10,000 people from 10 countries, found that 60 per cent expect to fly more often by 2050 but 96 per cent believe that aircraft will need to be more sustainable. About two-thirds of respondents said they want quieter aircraft, with a similar number wanting planes that are fully recyclable.
Almost 40 per cent said that air travel is becoming increasingly stressful, with complaints focused on queues at passport control, slow check-in and baggage collection, extended waits on the tarmac and circling in holding patterns around airports.
“The reality is those capacity constraints are a sign of things to come unless the industry can work together to cut delays,” Charles Champion, Airbus executive vice president for engineering, said in a statement. “With aviation set to double in the next 15 years, that’s what we’re looking at.”
Airbus also used the survey results to advance the argument that social media and other forms of interactive communication will never replace the need for air travel.
“Aviation is the real World Wide Web,” Champion said. “The results of the survey show that there is nothing better than face to face contact.”