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Transportation Patents

Airbus Patents Windowless Cockpit That Would Increase Pilots' Field of View 468

Zothecula writes Imagine showing up at the airport to catch your flight, looking at your plane, and noticing that instead of windows, the cockpit is now a smooth cone of aluminum. It may seem like the worst case of quality control in history, but Airbus argues that this could be the airliner of the future. In a new US patent application, the EU aircraft consortium outlines a new cockpit design that replaces the traditional cockpit with one that uses 3D view screens instead of conventional windows.
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Airbus Patents Windowless Cockpit That Would Increase Pilots' Field of View

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  • Failsafe? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 07, 2014 @12:52PM (#47400629)

    Are there at least windows behind the screens so that they can be moved out of the way in the event of a problem?

  • Re: Failsafe? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bondsbw ( 888959 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @01:00PM (#47400741)

    There are numerous ways a view screen could be disabled (object smashed it, software error, etc.) even though the plane is perfectly fit for flying otherwise.

  • by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @01:02PM (#47400765)

    Pilots routinely fly on instruments these days anyway, this is particularly true and night and in bad weather where visibility is minimal to non-existent. Think of landing a plane in thick fog, an operation that is common these days. The scary thing would be loss of instruments and electronic control systems. That would require pretty much total failure of the electrical and hydraulic systems and the backup systems. Something I don't believe has happened in a commercial airliner in more than 20 years.

    Though I agree with you, there should be windows for emergencies if they lose everything else and only have windows it's not going to be easy to land the plane because they'll have lost all instrumentation and hydraulic assist. That might be one of those times you just bend over and kiss your ass goodbye.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 07, 2014 @01:08PM (#47400835)

    It's always funny to read the knee-jerk anti-technology attitude on slashdot.

    For what it's worth I'll try to educate you: RIght now modern airplanes are almost entirely flown using computers, with no physical connection between the controls and the actual bits that do the flying. If ANY of those highly complex computerized systems (in addition to their multiple backup systems) fail completely, you're fucked regardless of how well you can see out the windows. Removing physical windows in favour of "virtual" ones is actually a great idea for all the reasons already stated and if you cannot see this, perhaps you should spend less time on a site for "nerds" and more time on a site for luddites.

  • by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @01:14PM (#47400909)

    your thinking is incorrect, multiple non-dependent systems exist with backup systems. The windows in the cockpit happen to be one of those

  • by geniice ( 1336589 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @01:17PM (#47400937)

    Last time Airbus allowed an actual pilot to control one of their planes they crashed it into the south atlantic. Given the development cycle for planes if Airbus were to introduce such a feature it will be after the biologicals have been removed from anywhere they can cause problems.

  • Re: Failsafe? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Albanach ( 527650 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @01:25PM (#47401025) Homepage

    And yet, wouldn't a pilot who left the cockpit while the plane landed using instruments be fired?

  • Re: Failsafe? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @01:25PM (#47401029)

    These screens we don't know about, and always have a single-point of failure: the screen itself.

    Obvious solution: Have more than one screen, so each one is not a single point of failure. But that is already part of the design, since the pilot and co-pilot each have their own screen.

    So if power dies off, at least with glass windows, the pilots can still see out and glide to a 'dead-stick' landing (even if it's not on a runway) using the backup power to the flight controls.

    Obvious solution: Route the backup power to the view screens as well.

  • nice work (Score:5, Insightful)

    by globaljustin ( 574257 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @01:30PM (#47401075) Journal

    You probably did more analytical thinking when you formulated the following paragraph than the entire design team who made this crap & the people who funded and approved the project:

    I can see one way that such screens could work- make them multilayer LCD. A black layer closest to the window, a white later, then the image layer. The black layer serves to block sunlight, and the white layer helps to white-balance the screen and provide some additional light blocking. In the event that power fails, the screens turn clear.

    the 'black layer' could be the hydrostatic glass that can be darkened when electric current is applied: []

    see, the way business works today, they will put Million$ into projects based on some dumb idea (or supply chain order for a contractor) before they even know how it would actually work

    one last thing, i was disappointed by the pedantic "point/counterpoint" conversations on this thread up till I found TWX's comment... is ALWAYS STUPID to not have an analog back up

    in aviation, and life, you should always have an analog back up whenever possible

  • by Stuntmonkey ( 557875 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @01:31PM (#47401097)

    Autonomous cars, and now this. I have to say I'm not so eager to entrust my life to complex software. Working in software I've seen countless times that complex systems show behaviors the designers didn't intend. At a minimum I'd want to know what dead-simple failsafe mechanisms have been engineered in to recognize and handle unknown states.

  • Re:nice work (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frequency Domain ( 601421 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @02:20PM (#47401587)

    Reminds me of a conversation I had with a student about a dozen years ago. GPS was all shiny and new in the civilian world, and he was an ex Army Ranger. I thought he'd be really gung-ho about GPS, but he said he preferred a paper map. When I asked him his reasons, he said "A GPS unit with a bullet hole through it is a door stop. A map with a bullet hole through it is still a map."

    Ever since then I've operated in the belief that robust technologies trump cool technologies.

  • Re:Failsafe? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @02:58PM (#47401845) Journal
    There are no display systems more reliable than a plate of glass.

Someday somebody has got to decide whether the typewriter is the machine, or the person who operates it.