Centre for Process Innovation wants to eliminate airplane windows, turn walls into screens.

The Airplanes of the Future Won’t Have Windows. You’ll Be Surrounded by Sky.

The Airplanes of the Future Won’t Have Windows. You’ll Be Surrounded by Sky.

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Oct. 27 2014 1:13 PM

The Airplanes of the Future Won’t Have Windows. You’ll Be Surrounded by Sky.

airplane
Wall screens and chair-back screens in CPI's next generation airplane.

Image from CPI

Vague, over-wing cloud photos are a staple of vacation albums across the Internet, but a British technology incubator wants to do away with them completely. You’ll still be able to see the sky, though. The Centre for Process Innovation is proposing the elimination of airplane cabin windows to make room for floor to ceiling wraparound screens showing continuous footage from outside the plane.

The goal of the proposal is to reduce how much commercial aircraft bodies, or fuselages, weigh thereby also reducing fuel consumption, costs, and carbon emissions. Windows add weight to aircraft cabins because of both the materials used to make them, and the additional components that must be added to the hull to strengthen and secure it.

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Jon Helliwell of CPI told the Guardian, “We had been speaking to people in aerospace and we understood that there was this need to take weight out of aircraft. ... Follow the logical thought through. Let’s take all the windows out—that’s what they do in cargo aircraft.”

To keep people in “window” seats happy, and minimize general feelings of claustrophobia, CPI wants to use cameras mounted on the exteriors of planes and flexible OLED screens on the interior walls to project real-time footage of what's going on outside all over the cabin.

CPI says that more than 80 percent of a commercial plane’s takeoff weight is the vehicle itself and not passengers or baggage. And the group adds that for every 1 percent in weight reduction, companies can save about 0.75 percent on fuel. CPI doesn’t seem to be offering a specific estimate of how much weight it could reduce by eliminating windows, but it says that fuselages could be thinner and stronger through the process, which could mean wider seats.

Some of the logistics are unclear, but it looks like CPI’s design would allow the person in the “window” seat to control the view and vantage point for the wall screen next to their seat. CPI estimates that it will take about 10 years for the proposal to be consumer-ready so there’s plenty of time to figure out who controls what on the wall screen.

Time for those “On our way!” and “Leaving on a jet plane” captions to be a thing of the past.

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