If you think flying today is exciting, you’re in for some special surprises as the aviation industry moves forward. Aircraft in the future might look like today’s planes, but they will be completely different in terms of the technology they will use.
The aircraft of the future will be faster, quieter, and more comfortable.
They will weigh less, too. More airframes will be made completely of woven mats of carbon embedded in plastic called “composites.” These materials offer both lightness and exceptional strength. Smooth, rivetless surfaces make for superior aerodynamics.
All aircraft will be connected to the worldwide web almost everywhere they fly, so passengers can use their cell phones and the Internet everywhere. Brand new Ka broadband technology makes for increased download speeds, so we can say goodbye to slow loading emails, and can even watch video more easily.
We may even be able to forget the messages from the captain at the beginning of the journey. Pilotless passenger planes are now in flight test, such as the Centaur, a four-seat 4,100-pound turboprop. It could be in service testing pipelines within five years, and eventually pave the way for larger passenger types. As the public gets more used to driverless cars, it will also become more comfortable with the concept of flying in drones.
Flying at supersonic speed
We can also look forward to supersonic aircraft that can fly faster than the speed of sound. Several companies, including Airbus, are developing ultra rapid air vehicles, which can cruise supersonically at altitudes of more than 100,000ft and carry up to 20 passengers for 5,500 miles, saving time and fuel on long haul flights.
More efficient flying
A greener flying environment is on the horizon, too. GE Aviation is testing revolutionary new engines that will deliver supersonic speeds and fuel efficiency, and all the engine manufacturers are looking for a reduction in fuel consumption.
Speaking of which, there are also international programmes in place creating bio-jet fuel from jatropha, camelina and micro-algae. Sustainable aviation fuels could provide up to one-third of all commercial aviation jet fuel by 2030 if produced in sufficient quantities.
Airlines all over the world are buying up thousands of new aircraft, so air travel is definitely here to stay. It’s good to know, then, that flying will become greener and cleaner than it is today.