Modern air travel has revolutionized the way humans get around. It has opened up the world to new opportunities for travel, commerce, and opportunities. While this is all great, the experience of air travel has undoubtedly deteriorated over the years. While flying used to be nearly glamorous, it has become something more of a chore in terms of how travelers are treated and the hoops they have to jump through to simply get on a plane. This is shown demonstrably in the age of the aircraft people currently fly in, with some being over 30 years old.
As planes continued to shuffle in and out as their life cycles come to an end, new and improved aircraft are showing up on the drawing board with new and innovative features that are aimed at improving the in-flight experience for passengers. To learn more about what might be coming down the pipeline in terms of aircraft innovation I spoke with Matt Keezer. Founding FlightHub in 2012, Keezer is keenly aware of the state of the air travel industry. He provided me with a list of neat innovations that could be on their way in the near future.
There are few experiences that allow you to see the world in the way you can from 32,000 feet. With that said, very few people can enjoy these throughly obstructed views. New airplanes are looking to fix this by providing viewing galleries that can allow you to get a great view while flying. One thought is that this gallery could be at the front of the plane, moving the cockpit elsewhere in the plane.
Virtual reality is the hot new buzzword in tech, and soon it could be coming to an aircraft near you. Not only would VR provide great in-flight entertainment, it has been shown to be a stress relieving experience, with doctors discovering that VR experiences can help lessen the effects of anxiety and stress.
Improved Tail Design
One mechanical adjustment that is picking up some steam in the aviation world has to do with tail technology. Turns out that research has shown that the tail design of modern aircraft is simply too large, cutting down on efficiency. Designers are now going back to the drawing board to see if different sizes and designs could prove to be more efficient, cutting down on fuel use over the life of the aircraft.
No, I’m not talking about a frying pan, I’m talking about the outer coating on planes. Fun fact, one of the biggest problems when it comes to aircraft efficiency is insects. Not getting in the engine, but covering the plane in bug guts. This increases drag on the wings and body of the plane. So, with that in mind, aircraft designers are looking to find ways to prevent this by either changing the material, or adding a layer on the exterior of the plane that will prevent this build up.
New Engine Technologies
Lastly, the future of modern aircraft is up in the air – no pun intended – in regards to how they fueled and how they fly. Obvious candidates include electric engines, solar powered flight, and alternative fuels. While most of these technologies are developed, aircraft designers are slowly finding ways to make these types of innovations feasible on a large scale. Beyond engines, other technologies include sub-orbital flight, which sees planes flying higher in the sky where they have less resistance and can complete long trips much faster.