Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Transportation Technology

The Airplane of the Future May Not Have Windows 286

merbs writes: Hope you're not too attached to looking out the windows when you fly — the designers of tomorrow's airplanes seem intent on getting rid of them. A Paris design firm recently made waves when it released its concept for a sleek, solar paneled, windowless passenger jet. Before that, Airbus proposed eschewing windows and building its cabins out of transparent polymers. Now, the Center for Process Innovation has floated its own windowless plane concept, and it's attracting plenty of headlines, too.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Airplane of the Future May Not Have Windows

Comments Filter:
  • Fine, if (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mbone ( 558574 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @07:43PM (#48246665)

    Fine, if it comes with a really good imaging system passengers can access. A VR set "would be nice."

    In reality, of course, it would likely mean that only the 1% will be able to see what's going on outside, as that sounds like a First Class option.

    • Re:Fine, if (Score:5, Informative)

      by xaotikdesigns ( 2662531 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @07:46PM (#48246691) Homepage Journal
      most of the linked designs do have some form of external viewing that would be a lot better than just the tiny windows that you find on a standard plane.
      • Windowless planes makes for a much stronger fuselage, in case of a crash. Rear facing seats while you're at it, much safer.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          It would be an interesting experiment to have rear facing seats, but have the displays inside make it seem like you're going forward.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Having your brain reconcile the forward motion on the screen with the backward-indicating thrust and inertia should be fun :)

            • Maybe angling the seats so they aren't actually flat could let gravity cancel most of it out. No clue what the angle would have to be.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by kuhnto ( 1904624 )
                WHAT! Actually give the passenger some comfort? The airlines would never let that happen.
              • by mattr ( 78516 )

                I recently was given a business class trip on Cathay which was great except last legon a narrow jet the seats were arranged diagonally. That was horrible. Even when you can tilt all the way down. Look you want to be aligned with the axjs of flight.

          • Re:Fine, if (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Cyberax ( 705495 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @08:22PM (#48246987)
            That'll trigger an instant vomiting reflex in a lot of people. Turns out that our brains think that conflicting visual and vestibular cues mean that we'd ingested something very psychoactive and it's time to try and get rid of it.
            • by kbg ( 241421 )

              Yes, I always have to sit in a front facing seat in a train otherwise I get motion sickness.

              • Re:Fine, if (Score:4, Informative)

                by RabidReindeer ( 2625839 ) on Tuesday October 28, 2014 @06:17AM (#48249225)

                Yes, I always have to sit in a front facing seat in a train otherwise I get motion sickness.

                Mostly, however, the train doesn't tilt so that people looking backwards find themselves looking downwards at the top of a steep-looking incline. Which can be a little disturbing.

                You don't notice the forward tilt on an airplane. They lose altitude while keeping the nose more or less upwards-pointing. Gaining altitude, on the other hand, especially the initial liftoff does dip the back quite a bit.

          • I'm certain one of the minor Thunderbirds vehicles [wikipedia.org] had rear-facing seats, but the power of Wikipedia fails me.

          • I've ridden in rear facing seats. USAF C-141. It wasn't fun. For the general population, it is a non-starter.
            • by rwa2 ( 4391 ) *

              And I've ridden sideways seats on a C-130. That... wasn't so bad.

              But to hell with seats... I'd much rather have a sleeper pod, like in 5th Element or the Tokyo pod hotels. Then everyone can effectively have a window AND aisle access, and flip whichever way is most comfortable for them. Or maybe even have some sort of suspension hammock that just adjusts to whichever way feels like "down" to them during whichever flight condition.

              The airlines could probably pack more people on board arranged into sleeper

          • You'd probably just feel ill. Comfort is the reason they have forward-facing seats in the first place.

        • by mbone ( 558574 )

          Yeah, I have flown the old BEA (all rear facing seats). Didn't like take off too much.

        • by ls671 ( 1122017 )

          In case of a crash or when the plane lose control, for example if the plane dives or fly upside down, I wonder if the display will follow up.

          Bonus, hacking into the display system or a bug in it could freak people out even if the plane flies normally.

    • Re:Fine, if (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @08:04PM (#48246817)

      Fine, if it comes with a really good imaging system passengers can access. A VR set "would be nice."

      Meh. I mean, sure that'd be nice. You know what would be MORE nice? Take some of that savings in construction and fuel costs which you'd get from the windowless plane, and give me a slightly more roomy seat with more legroom.

      I'd gladly fly on a windowless plane if it gave me even slightly more legroom. Looking out the window was fun when I was 10 years old, but it's pretty low on my priorities for flying these days.

      • You know what would be MORE nice? Take some of that savings in construction and fuel costs which you'd get from the windowless plane, and give me a slightly more roomy seat with more legroom.

        Haha, no. They'll give you the same tiny space they gave you before, and put it on the bottom line, while the other airlines rush to copy them.

        • by mlts ( 1038732 )

          To boot, you probably will get a fee tacked on for being able to sit in the cramped space with the contents of the tray in your lap as the guy in front leans back.

        • Probably the whole goal of getting rid of the windows is to shrink the walls an inch so they can cram one more row of seats into the plane.
      • and give me a slightly more roomy seat with more legroom.

        You can get that......if you're willing to pay for it. Most people aren't; they shop based on the cheapest flight at priceline.com. That's why everything keeps getting cheaper, with less space, less etc.

      • Looking out the window was fun when I was 10 years old, but it's pretty low on my priorities for flying these days.

        Really? You prefer to work, read, sleep, or tap a screen? Granted I'm a fan of sleeping but you can do all of those things anywhere (and probably spend enough time doing them as is). The ONLY place you get a view from 5 miles up is on a plane. I'm 6'3" and I prefer window seats so I can look out at all manner of cities and landscapes in a way you don't often see. I find it an excellent change of pace for my brain. Its weird how so many people are more interested in a world confined to a screen 18" from thei

    • Virtual reality is not good enough. If there is an accident we need to see actual reality to be able to see if it is safe to open the emergency exits and, for those not sitting in exit row seats, to be able to see which side of the plane they need to find an exit on. So perhaps they can make windows smaller but I doubt they can completely do away with them.
      • Windows also help when there's turbulence or just regular maneuvering at takeoff and landing. You can look outside and get your bearings to prevent nausea. Easier to get airsick (or seasick) if you can't see the horizon to stabilize your head.
    • by Jawnn ( 445279 )

      Fine, if it comes with a really good imaging system passengers can access. A VR set "would be nice."

      In reality, of course, it would likely mean that only the 1% will be able to see what's going on outside, as that sounds like a First Class option.

      Fuck the multi-media toys. Give me some more leg and elbow room and I'll gladly give up the window.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        It is all to do with the introduction of wide flying body planes. Where the width of the plane will mean the ratio of windows to passengers is tiny. So say a three or four aisle plane with 2 seats either side of the aisle, giving 12 or 16 seats across. Reclining seats and leg room will remain a problem, until sufficiently light methods of construction and fit out, make the mass of the passengers a greater cost measure than the space they take up in a comfortably seated position. Banking will be a significa

  • motion sickness (Score:5, Interesting)

    by misosoup7 ( 1673306 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @07:45PM (#48246679)
    We're going to need more vomit bags. People who were prune to motion sickness will be worse off without the windows since they are cut off from the last piece of sensory information that tells them that they are moving.
    • I thought the problem with motion sickness was the discrepancy between your eyes telling you you're moving, and your body telling you you're not?
      So wouldn't this be better for them?
      • Other way around. It's when you sense an acceleration (inner ear) but don't see it that you get motion sickness. That's why looking out a window helps.
    • by blippo ( 158203 )

      I think there is little difference on the vomit-factor.

      However, I won't fly in a windowless or driverless airplane. I like the windows because I think I am entitled to some minimal situational awareness.

      Besides, I don't think it will happen, since it will make quite a few people too uncomfortable.

      • I don't think it will happen, since it will make quite a few people too uncomfortable.

        I think it will happen, since the number of people that want to save $20 will be a lot higher than the number of people that will be too uncomfortable. Most people don't really care about getting a window seat, and most people in window seats don't even open the blind. I like window seats, and I enjoy watching the scenery go by, but a high-res monitor is good enough.

        • Count me as one of them. Given a choice between $20 and a window seat, I'll gladly take $20.

          When I fly, I see most passengers reading, using a phone or tablet, or sleeping. I never realized that anyone cared about a window view.

    • by microcars ( 708223 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @07:57PM (#48246777) Homepage

      People who were prune to motion sickness will be worse off without the windows since they are cut off from the last piece of sensory information that tells them that they are moving.

      And that is why I refuse to use those new-fangled elevators without windows.

  • But ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Plumpaquatsch ( 2701653 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @07:46PM (#48246683) Journal
    How are we supposed to see the gremlins?
  • by zr ( 19885 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @07:48PM (#48246717)

    ..i think they will have to keep windows in the hatches. they'll now call the emergency exit rows "observation deck" and charge x2 for them.

    thats what i call win-win :)

  • by Prien715 ( 251944 ) <agnosticpopeNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday October 27, 2014 @07:49PM (#48246719) Journal

    Airplanes are the only thing with Windows that don't crash (often).

  • and as an added benefit at the push of a button you won't be able to see what is actually going on on the outside, probably the airplane company is selling this to the government as we speak, pushing it as a 'security' feature (by obscurity) as if people who really want to couldn't use timing to figure out where they are.

    • Yes, unfortunately they do want to control what you see. Plus there's an added "benefit", the new "windows" will break the monotony of that boring sky with advertizing and instructions for the oxygen masks.

  • For the passenger is there really any difference between windows and walls made of transparent polymers?

  • Shame about the screens inside. Either in The Caves of Steel, or in one of the Isaac Asimov's Robot City books, Earth airplanes without windows were described. Apparently the agoraphobic Earthers of the time have no problem with flying as long as they're not forced see the outside. Not to mention us who don't like heights!

    Also, the solar panels sound like a rather lame idea. Half the time, they won't work, and they could easily be as heavy as the windows were before them. It almost sounds to me as if simply

  • Solar panels? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 50000BTU_barbecue ( 588132 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @08:05PM (#48246837) Homepage Journal

    I see no mention of anything of the sort in the article. With engine power outputs on the order of megawatts, of what possible use is adding fragile solar panels to an airframe?

  • This seems more like a couple of design firms tossing out ideas, kind of like what we used to see in Popular Mechanics.
  • by the_rajah ( 749499 ) * on Monday October 27, 2014 @08:51PM (#48247173) Homepage
    I guess that means they'll be using Unix, BSD or Linux. ((Ducks))
    • You'd want an embedded OS there. So instead of Unix, put Minix, toss in QNX and Chorus, and have NetBSD and Linux (Tiny Core or some such)
  • by binarstu ( 720435 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @08:53PM (#48247187)

    From TFA:

    Before that, Airbus proposed eschewing windows and building its cabins out of transparent polymers.

    What that really means is that Airbus wants to turn the entire cabin into a window. [airbus.com]

    Also from TFA:

    Hope you're not too attached to looking out the windows when you fly — the designers of tomorrow's airplanes seem intent on getting rid of them.

    Well, I guess that technically, Airbus would be "getting rid of the windows", but if the end result is that everyone on the plane has a better view, I don't think it supports TFA's argument at all.

  • ... that pilots will be unhappy about this.

  • Yeah, I bet all those high-resolution display panels will be lighter than windows, free to operate and won't require a massive computer system to drive them.

    • Yeah, I bet all those high-resolution display panels will be lighter than windows,

      Well, for a start, they don't have to resist 10 tons per square metre.

  • A plane without Windows?? Sounds like a dream come true but will it run Unity?

  • Looking out the window is the only remaining aspect of flying I look forward to even though it's worthless over most of the flight.

    No problem in principal with fake windows and fudge-able camera views... some of the Qatar airways planes had down facing camera views that were exceptionally cool.

    Only problem this will all be destroyed by advertising, paywalls and whatever annoyances the marketeers dream up to bleed maximum amount of pennies out of everyone while guaranteeing the most annoying and uncomfortabl

  • I can't get people to shut the dinky windows when I try to sleep on flights now. I hate those sleep masks. I hate flying and I am afraid of heights. For a few years now I joked about how they should make glass-bottom airplanes. I joked because it is ridiculous, just as this is.
  • Well, it has probably been a year or two since the last time slashdot trotted out the windowless airplane article.
  • Using seamless digital displays around the cabin sounds very much like the displays inside Blaine the Mono from the Dark Tower series. Personally, I think this could be rather cool - especially if they had some augmented reality features that provided info on areas of interest, or if they showed pre-recorded video capture from other flights during clear weather to display in place of clouds when flying over weather systems. And when the plane starts in an uncontrolled descent, they can show a pretty landsca
  • by ChrisMaple ( 607946 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @09:38PM (#48247461)

    If the walls are opaque, people with claustrophobia will be puking.

    If the walls are transparent, people with agoraphobia or acrophobia will be puking.

    If it's actually possible to make a strong enough transparent body, then paint everything except a horizontal stripe just a little taller than existing airliner windows. Liquid crystal panels for dimming might be nice.

    • The US army has tried for years to come up with a full-face helmet with embedded HUD, built-in night vision, etc. On paper this is fantastic, but during field tests, soldiers consistently rip those off when they get into combat situations.

      Put hundreds of people on a windowless plane, with 20% or more already scared at the idea of flying, and see what happens if the onboard computer crashes and they find themselves surrounded by blue (or black) screens. Cabin fever on steroids.

      • The US army has tried for years to come up with a full-face helmet with embedded HUD, built-in night vision, etc. On paper this is fantastic, but during field tests, soldiers consistently rip those off when they get into combat situations.

        it just won't ever be feasible at the human scale until you get retinal implants or equivalent, because shit on your face is always shit on your face. but if you were piloting a larger-than-man-sized craft, it would make sense. and in fact it does, since that's what pilots wear.

      • The US army has tried for years to come up with a full-face helmet with embedded HUD, built-in night vision, etc. On paper this is fantastic, but during field tests, soldiers consistently rip those off when they get into combat situations.

        [[Citation Needed]].

        Seriously, there's tens? hundreds? of thousands of people who already wear full face helmets - from motorcycle riders, to combat pilots, to firemen, to a myriad of martial artists... And they don't constantly rip them off when in a high pressure situat

  • I like looking out the window. I can look at a screen whenever I want. A picture of the outside isn't the same. It isn't 3D.

  • So what (Score:4, Insightful)

    by paiute ( 550198 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @10:58PM (#48247857)
    Sardines don't need windows.
  • Otherwise there is no reason for them. Just look at military aircraft. Incidentally, the same is true for the forward-facing seats. Backwards-facing is better safety-wise, but there are too many people that cannot take that.

  • Penny-wise, pound foolish.

    Instead of removing windows, it'd be better to make the windows bigger to bring about a sense of awe to passengers. Or is it better to take out any wonder or joy in life and replace it with mere functionality?

    They'd be far better investing in and researching electric planes like what Elon Musk has spoken about.
    • They'd be far better investing in and researching electric planes like what Elon Musk has spoken about.

      I went to Farnborough this year and I can assure you they are researching electric planes. They had one flying shortly before the A380, and a little after the WWI dogfight demonstration team.

  • Well, if this enables supersonic travel for current tickets prices, I don't mind. But otherwise, looking out of the windows is one of few things pleasant about flying. Why mess with it?

  • by Tony Isaac ( 1301187 ) on Tuesday October 28, 2014 @12:30AM (#48248137) Homepage

    Sorry folks, you'll just have to stand in that flying cattle car. And don't forget to wear your adult diapers, they won't have restrooms either.

  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Tuesday October 28, 2014 @07:58AM (#48249553) Journal

    Artsy Paris design firm != actual aircraft designers.

    Unless today's engineers take their aesthetic choices from someone else's random napkin doodles, I think we are safe with windows for a while.

    (Btw what's up with the recent frequency of "new products" from design firms who pretty much just conceptualize a design by drawing a picture, with absolutely no engineering background, nor actual intent to build a working product? Aren't the aesthetics kind of the last concern, for most things?)

"I have just one word for you, my boy...plastics." - from "The Graduate"

Working...