If you’ve been reading our National Aviation History Month series about flights that made history, airport amenities, and plane design, you know that air travel has had its ups and downs. Once we figured out how to propel a metal bird through the sky, we went from limited success keeping vessels in the air to sweet luxurious trips through the clouds. We’ve somehow landed at mostly convenient journeys with cramped conditions and limited frills. But what will air travel of the future look like? As optimists, we choose to believe that the future of flying will come with better technology and some pretty epic perks.
New (Mostly Improved) Seating
We’ve all been there, cramped in the middle seat, engaged in passive aggressive warfare over the shared arm rest. Meanwhile, nearly any throne in coach leaves your feet asleep as they sit wedged aside your under-seat carry on. What do future designs reveal? If some of the more creative plans come to fruition, air travel in the future will include more ergonomic, 3-D printed seats and spacious recliners for regional flights. Some airlines, including Emirates Airline, have already begun to implement bar areas where you can stretch your legs. On the other end of the spectrum, Airbus has designed a plane with 11 seats across. Good luck getting a potty break if you’re in the middle!
Daytime flights soar ever closer to the sun, yet we’re not harnessing the energy of this giant star. At least, until now. The first all solar powered flight is set to take off in 2016, and B/E Aerospace has designed a solar-powered window shade that can power your devices. You’ll just plug your UBS cord into the shade and say goodbye to obsessing over the battery percentage remaining on your iPad. If you’re thinking “Why not just slap some solar panels on the roof of the plane?,” someone is way ahead of you. The Progress Eagle, if manufactured, would use rooftop panels to capture sun energy that can in turn power the plane and reduce its carbon footprint.
More Screens than You Know What to Do With
Despite their small size, airplanes do have a lot of wall surface that goes unused. Well, besides holding the entire vessel together. Some designers envision turning nearly every surface, from walls to seat backs, into an interactive screen. The future of air travel will be filled with more live programming, movies, and GIFs than you can imagine! When it comes to your personal screens, like a tablet, you can also expect seatbacks to have clever inlets or hooks that make it easy to pop in your screen for the entire flight.
Buckle up for the future of aviation – hopefully in far more comfortable seats!