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Traveling is about to get a whole lot better. The future of air travel History is Bunk: The Future of Transportation Will Be Like Nothing You've Seen Before History is Bunk: The Future of Transportation Will Be Like Nothing You've Seen Before In a few decades, the phrase 'driverless car' is going to sound an awful lot like 'horseless carriage,' and the idea of owning your own car will sound as quaint as digging your own well. Read More looks fast, entertaining, and even comfortable!

While today’s travels are often thought of as a little cramped, noisy, and boring, the travel of tomorrow will be an experience all its own.

Airlines have begun to listen to consumer demand and it seems that passenger satisfaction is top priority for airline companies, which is good news for every traveler.

Inflight Comfort

First, let’s talk about what really matters to most of you – how comfortable you are while in the air. Lighting, elbow and leg room, inflight entertainment, noise – all of these matter and they’re all about to get addressed.

The British firm BAE Systems has created the IntelliCabin, a high-tech cabin system designed for full function and comfort.

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Anything you want or imagined for inflight entertainment will be provided, because, as Jared Shoemaker, director of Cabin Systems at BAE Systems, says,

“IntelliCabin…helps to acclimate and ease you into a more comfortable atmosphere throughout the flight, helping you to feel more refreshed on arrival.”

The IntelliCabin is set to be on many commercial airlines soon, and is described by BAE Systems as an “in-seat power, LED lighting, wireless tablet-based in-flight entertainment 6 Creative Uses for Your Android Tablet 6 Creative Uses for Your Android Tablet Have an Android tablet? You'll enjoy these creative uses for it! Read More , and dimmable windows, all managed via a centralized attendant control panel, or a crew handheld device.”

Speed & Duration

Wherever you’re going, you probably want to get there as fast as possible. And if you can afford a trip aboard the Spike S-512 Supersonic Jet, you can travel much faster.

The jet is expected to be made available to business-class passengers around 2020 and will supposedly fly at speeds of “Mach 1.6, 450 miles per hour (mph), faster than any other civilian jet.” Their site explains that a trip to London from New York City or from Paris to Dubai will take only around 3 hours, which is significantly shorter than the current 7 or so hour flights.

The US-based aerospace engineering and design firm says the luxury airliner will carry around 12 to 18 passengers and (what) will cost $80 million or so to become the world’s fastest airliner. You can imagine a ticket for a trip on this plane will cost a pretty penny.

Carbon Footprint

The future of flight doesn’t have to be expensive or hurt the environment. Pioneering aviation engineers have been looking at ways of creating a cheaper, more eco-friendly air tech in a number of unique ways.

One Way, Electric Motors

Electric motors are a huge part of this plan, as batteries can be charged from green sources. In contrast, theres’ no way to completely eliminate the carbon emissions from a jet engine.

Two pilots recently flew across the English Channel in planes powered solely by electricity, which can be seen as a huge milestone for the future of air technology.

The planes, while running on lithium batteries Battery Technologies That Are Going to Change the World Battery Technologies That Are Going to Change the World Battery tech has been growing more slowly than other technologies, and is now the long tent pole in a staggering number of industries. What will the future of battery technology be? Read More and not on fuel, released zero emissions during their flight.

And while both planes are tiny, Chief Technical Officer Jean Botti told The Associated Press at a Paris Air Show,

“Our objective here is to make a hybrid-electric hundred seater for the future.”

One day, we could all be onboard an electric plane and not have to worry about our carbon footprint.

Going A Little Farther with Electric Planes

US-based government agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has been working on upgrading electric planes with a redesigned wing, which is meant to be more aerodynamic.

Matt Redifer, a chief engineer for NASA’s Scalable Convergent Electronic Propulsion Technology Operations Research (SCEPTOR) project, in an interview with Discovery News says,

“We are looking at the whole system, instead of just replacing engines with electric motors, we are looking at a design that couples electric propulsion with a redesign of the wing.”

The redesign, which may look old-fashioned, is meant to propel the plane farther with better lift and propulsion. The idea is that the redesigned wings (and more powerful, electric motors) will be used for bigger planes and longer journeys in the near future.

Solar Impulse II

Another huge milestone in aviation was also reached recently when a solar powered plane was used to fly from Japan to Hawaii.

The solar powered plane, dubbed Solar Impulse II,  uses lithium-ion batteries, which are now damaged and have delayed the “Round the World Solar Flight” till April 2016, four electric motors, and a whole bunch of solar cells.

The solar impulse website claims that the planes are able to fly day and night without a single drop of fuel, which “demonstrate[s] that clean technologies and renewable energies can achieve the impossible.”

Flying Without a Pilot?

Thinking outside of the box, commercial aviation companies have envisioned a future with robot pilots. And although this future has already been realized with military tech Drone Wars: How UAV Tech Is Transforming the Future of War Drone Wars: How UAV Tech Is Transforming the Future of War A revolution is taking place right now on the battlefields of the world: wars are fought increasingly by drones. Read More  and industry revolutionizing drones 7 Industries Drones Are Set to Revolutionize 7 Industries Drones Are Set to Revolutionize Seven industries that are ready and braced to be (mostly positively) impacted – if not revolutionized – by drones. Read More , commercial aviation hasn’t attempted to use this technology. Until now.

An R2-D2-like robot has been built by Darpa – Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The robot, known as an Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System, or Alias, has been developed to augment human piloting.

This means, the machine, which acts as a “co-pilot,” can perform twists and turns, take-off, and land just like a pilot. But, the idea isn’t to replace the pilot.

In an interview with the New York Times, Jessica Duda, program manager for Aurora Flight Sciences, one of the Alias developers says,

“What we would like to do is use the humans for what the humans are really good at and the automation for what the automation is really good at.”

This could mean safer air travel. The automated machine can be used during routine flights and during emergencies, which can happen when a pilot becomes incapacitated or is forced out of the cockpit, which supposedly happened during the Germanwings tragedy.

Living in the Future

Not only is the future of air travel bright and comfortable, the future of air travel is faster, more eco-friendly, and safer. Aviation experts all over the world are putting their ideas together and achieving what may have been considered impossible a few years ago – traveling around the world using only the power of the sun, no emissions, flying without a pilot – all important steps towards an even better air traveling experience in the near future.

What do you think? Are you excited about the future of air travel?

Image Credits:surreal helicopter by lassedesignen via Shutterstock

  1. Cally X
    September 23, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    I probably won't dish out for a supersonic long haul flight, so I can have more time to sort through all the new in-flight entertainment options!

    • Shay Meinecke
      September 24, 2015 at 12:59 pm

      The in-flight entertainment does seem entertaining, doesn't it?!

  2. fcd76218
    September 18, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    " The future of air travel looks fast, entertaining, and even comfortable!"
    You forgot EXPENSIVE. When the technologies become widely available, the airlines will make sure the customer pays through the nose.

    Prices have not gone down in a long time. Airlines are squeezing every last penny possible out of their customers. If FAA and other national regulatory agencies allowed it, airlines would stack passengers like cordwood to maximize the space in planes.

    While oil prices have dropped 60%, airplane ticket prices have dropped only 5%. However, the total cost of flying has gone up due to the "unbundling" of services. Today's air traveler may pay a lower price for the actual ticket but that is m ore than made up by all the fees. Food and beverages are no longer complimentary. Carry-on baggage is no longer complimentary. Any changes to your itinerary carry heavy charges. Seat choice carries a hefty fee. You weant a pillow, a blanket or ear phones? Be ready to pay dearly.

    The Concorde SST was fast, entertaining and even comfortable, but it was hellishly expensive in comparison to normal jet travel. It died because BA and Air France were not able to charge high enough ticket prices to cover expenses, make a profit AND retain customers.

    • Shay Meinecke
      September 21, 2015 at 6:45 am

      You're right that ticket costs have largely stayed the same, minus the recent 5% drop in prices (which I hardly noticed when traveling). And unfortunately you're right, the total cost of flying has gone up.

      Though, I'm on the optimistic side of the fence in thinking that cabin comfort for passangers will change in the near future, as federal regulators will eventually hear complaints from the so many consumer groups who are voicing their opinions on the shrinking seat, increased costs, etc.

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