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Airbus 2050: Transparent Planes, Biometric Boarding Passes, Holograms

Jun 17, 2011

If you've ever been cheated out of a window seat on a flight, you'll appreciate the concept plane Airbus just revealed at an airshow in Paris. In its vision of what air travel might be like in 2050, the aircraft manufacturer showed a plane with a transparent fuselage, giving all passengers a panoramic view of what's outside.

"The idea is to have a technology for the fuselage that's a bit like bones of birds that allows to have large spaces that can turn transparent, in order to look outside and 'live' the panorama in which you are flying," Charles Champion, Airbus' head of engineering, told London's Telegraph (see video below).

Airbus didn't hold back its designers' imaginations in conceiving features for the future plane. Besides a see-through hull that would make Wonder Woman consider a copyright infringement lawsuit, the concept aircraft would also discard the traditional class system of first, business, and economy. Instead, the Airbus from the future would have three zones: a Vitalizing Zone, with "organically grown" seats that can massage you; a recreational Interaction Zone, with pop-up "pods" for things like private dinners and a holographic gaming wall; and a Smart Tech Zone, where the seats adapt perfectly to individuals' size and shape.

The plane itself is shaped like a soda bottle, with wings that are built to reduce drag and keep engine noise down. The engines themselves are positioned in the rear, said to be more fuel efficient less noisy. The double doors allow for faster boarding, featuring a biometric sensor that will scan a passenger's hand to check in. Luggage drop-off happens right there and then, and when you're finally nestled in one of the planes morphing seats, an energy-harvesting system siphons the heat from your body to help power the aircraft, including that holographic display in front of you.

If it all sounds too good to be true, it is: Airbus' concept plane is pure Photoshop right now, and some of the technologies mentioned in the proposal sound more like science fiction than reality. For example, a neural network that's built right into the fuselage—eliminating the need for cables—sounds wonderful, but it hasn't been invented yet.

Will air travel in 2050 in any way resemble Airbus' vision? Only time will tell, of course, though to compare how current airline amenities differ with what they were 40 years ago, it seems doubtful. In the meantime, however, the designers could probably get jobs working on the next Steve Spielberg movie.

See the Slideshow

The Airbus Concept Cabin Xray

The Airbus Concept Cabin Xray
Airbus predicts that the aircraft in 2050 will have a bionic structure that mimics bird bones to allow for lighter weight structure and open panoramic views.

The Interaction Zone / Virtual Golf

The Interaction Zone / Virtual Golf
The centre interactive zone provides space for social scenarios, such as a virtual game of golf with people on ground or even with passengers in other aircraft.

Smart Tech Zone

Smart Tech Zone

Morphing seats can harvest passenger's body heat to power aircraft systems such as holographic pop-up pods as shown here in the Airbus Concept Cabin "Smart Tech Zone."

The Vitalising Zone by Night

The Vitalising Zone by Night
Passengers in 2050 can sit back and enjoy the night sky when travelling to destinations due to bionic structure and interactive membrane of the Airbus Concept Cabin.

The Vitalising Zone by Day

The Vitalising Zone by Day
Vitalising Zone at the front of the aircraft. An intelligent cabin membrane can become transparent to give passengers open panoramic views.

Passengers

Passengers

Passengers in 2050 can sit back and enjoy the night sky when travelling to destinations due to bionic structure and interactive membrane of the Airbus Concept Cabin.

See the slideshow here