The business and culture of our digital lives,
from the L.A. Times

« Previous Post | Technology Home | Next Post »

The future of air travel is ... well, weird

September 23, 2010 |  3:50 pm

Futureplane Can you imagine a plane that at a touch of a button becomes entirely transparent so passengers can have unobstructed views through the fuselage and the cabin floor at the city that lies about 40,000 feet below their feet?

Well, the engineers at European aircraft maker Airbus can. 

The company released “The Future, by Airbus” a few months back, and even though it’s only about 14 pages long, there are some wild ideas about the future of air travel.

By 2050, engineers envision self-cleaning headrests that can never be soiled, pliable seats that will modify around a passenger’s body, and holographic projections that will make a private cabin into a Japanese Zen garden.

“So imagine, if you will, stepping in to your pre-selected themed cabin, relaxing into a perfectly clean, ecologically grown seat that changes shape to suit you and looking up through the transparent ceiling at the Milky Way in all its glory,” at an altitude of more than 32,000 feet, the company writes.

Airbus says materials of the future will have functionality that provides transparency on command, negating the need for windows. So we’re guessing that the pilot will be able to put the plane in invisible mode.

But whether or not people are going to want to see through a plane as it travels 600 miles per hour is still up in the air.

-- W.J. Hennigan

PHOTO: Could this be the future? Actually, it's a model of a new Airbus 350 on display at the Aircraft Interior Expo at the Long Beach Convention Center last week. CREDIT: Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times