Innovative Technologies in Aviation Industry

InnovativeTechnologies in Aviation Industry

InnovativeTechnologies in Aviation Industry

Theinvention of the airplane has had a significant impact on how peoplelive and experience the world. The aviation industry is one of thelargest growing industries in the world. The airline industry is acrucial player with regards to the globalization witnessed in othersectors. It contributes significantly to global trade, tourism,economic growth and international investments. The past decade hasseen a growth of air travel with a margin of 7% annually. Leisure andbusiness travels have contributed actively to this growth. Largeaircraft such as the Boeing 747 have increased the affordability andconveniences that have made it possible for long distance travel tonew and exotic places. Globalization of most companies has alsocontributed significantly to the number of business travels witnessedby various airlines. Such companies have an international customerbase hence the notable global investments (Bisignani, 2006). Otherfactors that have contributed to growth in the business travelinclude the fast growth witnessed with regards to world traderegarding the goods and services and also direct investments indifferent parts of the world. In the commercial industry, businesstravels contribute significantly to growth due to the frequenttravels witnessed from these clients and the possibility to purchaseadvanced services that will, in turn, produce higher returns for theairlines.

TheUnited States Department of Transportation categorizes the airlineindustry into four mainly differentiated by the seating capacity andthe revenues obtained. These include the regional, international,cargo and national. The primary focus of the international categoryis on planes with a seating capacity of over one hundred and thirtypassenger and a revenue of one billion dollars per year. The nationalgroup comprises of airplanes with a passenger capacity of between 100and 150 people with an annual income of $100 million and $1 billion.The regional category focuses on planes on short-haul flights withannual revenue less than $100 million. In the cargo category, suchplanes are mainly involved in the transportation of goods (Airlineindustry overview, n.d.).

Theaviation industry is on the lookout for newer innovative technologiesaimed at improving customer experience. Cost and safety are two ofthe most important elements in the aviation sector. Increased safetystandards, increased profits, and lowering operation costs are someof the guidelines used by suppliers and manufacturers to the airlineindustry.

Innovativetechnologies

Theairline industry has witnessed the upsurge of different innovativetechnologies mainly focusing on improving the passenger experience.Below is a discussion on some of these technologies.

Double-Decker Seating

Futuristicnew concepts have been unveiled with regards to the introduction ofdouble-decker seating. Airbus has proposed a new design of seats witha split level, mezzanine seating arrangement. The proposedarrangements target premium cabins mostly the business class. Theseats will have a row at the center which would alternate betweenfloor area and a raised level. Each of the seats would lie back whilethose on the lower level would be fitted with side-stairs that wouldallow passengers to access seats on the mezzanine level. This designwould offer more space particularly in the business class which lacksoverhead storage bins. This would allow the addition of more seatswhich would be reciprocated in the number of tickets sold.

Thisdesign is part of a patent that has been filed by Airbus with theprimary focus on utilizing the space available in a passenger cabin.More passenger seats would be fitted with the cabin leaving veryminimal space between seat rows. The other requirement in the patentis an elevated deck structure that would be located in the upper areaof the aircraft’s fuselage (Kitching, 2015). The apparent advantageof this design is the increase in the number of ticket sales due tothe increased number of passenger seats. However, maximum utilizationof space in the passenger cabin will have an impact on passengers’comfort.

SkyDeckviewing dome

Theother futuristic, innovative technology is the SkyDeck viewing domewhich is included in the patent filed by U.S. aerospace tech company.This dome would be fitted with passenger seats that offer amagnificent view from the top of the airplane. This design willcomprise of a bubble-style canopy that is transparent so as to allowan unobstructed view of the skies. The company has recommended theinstallation of its design in different aircraft such as private jetsand wide-bodied commercial airplanes.

Accessto the seats would be through either a staircase or an elevator. Theseats would have the possibility of rotating at an angle of360-degrees hence enjoying an incredible view of the skies. Thecompany recommends this design be used to generate more revenues whenused by commercial flights in a pay per view system. Some of thenotable advantages of the SkyDeck as proposed by the company includethe durable materials that would be used to make the canopy.Materials similar to those employed in the construction of supersonicjets will be incorporated. This is to provide high resistance againststressing factors such as bird strikes (Neild, 2016). To reduce thedrag factor, the dome would have an aerodynamic shape. Also appliedto the dome is an anti-condensation film and a UV-protection coatwhich would prevent fogging and the sun rays respectively.

MaxCabinseating

Thisis a new seating arrangement that is under configuration by Design Q,a British firm. In this design, the conventional seat rows would bereplaced with inward facing seats on both sides of the aircraft inaddition to two subsequent rows located in the middle. Some of theadvantages of this design are the cheap operational and buildingcosts. This design is estimated to contribute to a thirty percentcost reduction and a fifty percent increase in passenger capacity.Passengers will have the added advantage of a safer and fasterboarding and exit of the plane. Limitations of this design are thereduced level of comfort and as such this design is only applicablefor short-haul flights of approximately eighty minutes. This designwould also lack sufficient space that would allow a trolley to movealong (O’Sullivan, 2009).

AirLair Seat Model

Thisis a futuristic concept unveiled by Factorydesign, a London-basedfirm. This design features a cocoon of single seats that are stackedon top of each other. The seats can be positioned to either situpright or lie flat. This is an idea that was invented by Zodiacseats which provided Factorydesign the opportunity to design andconstruct the model. This design would, however, have a majorlimitation when it comes to passengers who encounter difficulties intheir movements (Cable, 2014).

EconomyClass Cabin Hexagon

Thisconcept forms part of the patent filed by Zodiac Seats France wherebyit intends to locate the middle seat and turn it around at an angleof 180 degrees. The primary aim is to maximize space by arrangingpassengers in a hexagonal formation. This design has a major setbackwith regards to comfort especially where passenger`s hands areplaced. It will also involve constant eye contact from fellowpassengers which might be uncomfortable (Peralta, 2015).

Detachablecabin

Oneof the futuristic concepts that have been formulated with regards tothe development of planes with detachable cabins is the Aircraft PodConcept. This is an innovation that has been formulated by Airbuswith the primary aim of reducing the time taken by airplanes atairport terminals. This is an innovative idea that has already beenapproved by the U.S. Patent Office. In this futuristic innovation,detachable cabins will be used to board passengers before the arrivalof the plane. Once the plane arrives, the cabins would then betransported to the aircraft similar to the loading of aircraft cargo.This allows for the mobilization of the plane during passengertransfers. There has been a steady increase in the turn timesexperienced by commercial aircrafts. One of the contributing factorsto this increase in turn times is the sluggish pace at whichpassengers aboard aircraft. Drastic reduction in the rising turntimes could lead to a decrease in the number of planes pursuing thesame route hence increasing the profit margins of airlines (Zhou,2015).

RescueCapsule Cabin

Thisis an invention that has been developed by Vladimir Tatarenko, aUkrainian aviation engineer. He has invented a lifesaving capsulewhose primary purpose is to save lives during aviation accidents. Theredesigned cabin has the possibility of landing safely on the groundor water after detaching from the plane. This detachment may occurduring take-off, landing or flight. During the design, some of theexisting technology will also be included such as incorporating theuse of carbon and Kevlar composites for the fuselage, flaps, wings,spoilers, tail, and ailerons. Rubber tubes are also included in theinnovation with the main purpose of preventing the cabin from sinkingin case it lands on water and also cushion the cabin againstconsiderable impact when it falls on the ground. The detachment ofthe cabin from the plan would trigger an instant release ofparachutes which are attached on top of the cabin.

Underneaththe cabin, there is a space allocated for luggage hence this wouldprevent loss of passenger items in case the cabin detaches. Some ofthe possible drawbacks of this design include the isolated cabincrashing into buildings or mountains and the lack of clarity withregards to the escape plans for pilots. There is also a possibilityof the airframe being weakened due to the connection joining the bodyand the fuselage as compared to the airframe being reinforced by awhole fuselage (Liberatore, 2016).

Forcefield

Thisinnovative technology is part of a patent that was filed by Boeing in2012 which involves an attenuated shockwave via an electromagneticarc. The system creates a shell of ionized air. This is known as theplasma field, and it occurs between the object under threat andshockwave of an oncoming blast. As stated in the patent, the systemwould work by creating a second fluid medium after a particularregion of the first liquid medium has been heated. The purpose of thesecond transient medium would intercept the shockwave leading toenergy density attenuation before it touches the target object. Alaser may be used to superheat the protective arc of air. Alsoincluded in the device are sensors which would automatically detectblasts before an impact occurs. Some of the notable drawbacks of thistechnology include the inability of the force field to provideprotection against flying projectiles and shrapnel. This technologycan only guard against Shockwave (Nelson, 2015).

Windowlesscockpits

Thisis a futuristic concept that has been patented by Airbus. This designis intended to replace the conventional windows with 3D view screensin a bid to do away with the traditional cockpit design. Mostimportant concentration is to maintain the aerodynamic of theaircraft`s nose. With the increasing size of most aircraft, variouscomponents have been included in the nose area. This is reflected inthe current design of the cockpit which includes front landing gear,radome and a resting place for the crew. This patent intends toremove the Windows entirely or partially reduce their views.

Theexternal views would be captured by a display system comprising ofOLED imaging systems, lasers or holograms as provided by cameras thatwould be located outside the fuselage. Additionally, assistance forparking and taxing would be provided by stereo cameras. Navigationbeacons, weather conditions, hazards and air routes will behighlighted using augmented reality. Holographic displays of a globewould be used to display weather and navigation data. Some of theadvantages of a windowless cockpit include widening the field of viewfor the pilots, and also it will have different ways of displayinginformation. There will be an increase in the flexibility of whatinformation is to be displayed. A windowless cockpit woulddrastically reduce the aircraft’s weight which would be efficientwith regards to the amount of fuel used. Hardening of the cabin wouldalso increase the security of the plane (Szondy, 2014).

Flyingdoughnut

Thisis a concept developed by Airbus that has been referred to as the‘flying doughnut’. This aircraft has a design similar to a UFOand boarding of the aircraft would be through an access hatch and anescalator. This design intends to provide more space to passengers.The shape of the donut emerges from the circular design of the cabin.Also notable in the shape is a hole located at the center togetherwith curved aisles. The plan would also include two categories ofseats, economy and business seats. The outer ring would be used forpassengers on economy tickets while those on business class ticketswould be seated at the inner ring. This design would be lighter andprovide more additional space in the cabin hence it would reduce thepressure placed on the cabin area as witnessed in cylindricalaircraft. This only means the aircraft would be more efficient andeconomical. The other advantage of this design is the ability toresist cabin pressurization emanating from the loads. This wouldfacilitate the reduction or avoidance of a sealed bottom in aircraft(Smith, 2014).

Virtualreality isolation helmet

Thepurpose of this helmet is to prevent interruptions resulting fromperipheral noise from nearby passengers. It would provide passengerswith the perfect atmosphere for in-flight entertainment. Some of theadditional components of the headset would include earphones, glassesto enhance visibility, built-in video screen and an airbag that wouldoffer protection from turbulent conditions. This revolutionaryinnovation is also part of a patent filed by Airbus (Kitching, 2014).

Terroristtrap doors

Thiswas a patent that was filed by Airbus back in 2001. This conceptwould encompass a trap door that would open downwards into acell-like cage. The door would be located in the floor area next tothe cockpit. Aggressive or suspicious actions by passengers would bemonitored by different types of sensors such as motion detectors,sensors to detect seat occupancy, microphones, and video cameras. Allthese information would be transmitted to an evaluation system whichwould analyze the data to identify situations considered as unusual.The evaluation system would have the ability to activateautomatically alarm signals and other countermeasure devices thatwould be used against terrorists. These countermeasure elements wouldinclude high-intensity blinding light, strobe light, lighting mastershut off for the cabin, window darkening devices, fogging gas, noisegenerators, and a night-vision video camera that has a tranquilizerdart gun attached to it (Carrington, 2015).

Virtualreality helmet

Thisis part of a patent that has been filed by Airbus, a virtual realityhelmet that would be used in-flight by passengers to prevent boredom.The helmet would place passengers into a fantasy world supplementedby different forms of entertainment such as interactive video gamesand three dimensional movies. The helmet would isolate passengersfrom the outside environment. The helmet would also have thepossibility of alleviating stress from passengers. Possible additionsto the helmet would include a microphone, glasses for diffusingimages and technology to diffuse smelling substances (koziol, 2014).

SmartWindows

Inthis patent filed by Airbus, passengers would be able to seedifferent iconic sights without setting foot out of the plane. Itwould provide an interactive platform whereby passengers would beable to learn more with regards to the sights they see below througha technology made of interactive glass with wide windows. Thetechnology will include transparent walls with full touchscreencapability. In addition to enjoying the beautiful views, passengercomfort would be enhanced by the greater recline and leg spaceoffered by the chairs that would be fitted. The technology would alsohave a provision for temperature control through an intelligentmembrane built into the cabin wall. Additionally, recreational zoneswould be created which would encompass three categories, theseinclude a stocked bar, relaxation zone on the front and a workingzone at the back. Light conditions would determine the changes thatoccur in the walls of the aircraft (Pemberton, 2015).

Solareclipse window shades

Thisis an innovative interior technology developed by B/E Aerospace,which is a window shade that uses solar energy. The power outlets areprovided through a USB connection. These would provide in-flightrecharging of electronic devices hence addressing the power problemwitnessed in the aviation industry. Power problems are alsocompounded by the availability of wireless internet connectivity andother forms of wireless entertainments. The high solar irradiationavailable at higher altitudes would be converted into solar energythrough thin film solar cells that are well fitted with the windowshades. These window shades would also be easier to install as itwould require no significant changes to the airplane. The windowsshades are also light in weight hence they won’t add more pressureon the fuel consumption. A possible drawback would be the decisionwith regards to who benefits from the solar energy between thoseseated at the window and those far away. There may also be apossibility for the airlines charging more for the window seat(Garcia, 2015).

Sleepsupport system

Thisinnovation is part of a patent that was issued to Boeing with themain purpose of solving issues associated with sleeping on theairplanes. Attached to the back of the plane seat, there’s acontraption which makes it possible for passengers to have a restfulsleep with their chest and face forward. Also included in thisinnovation would be a face relief aperture that would cater for thenose, eyes, chin, and mouth with a small opening for breathing. Thepassengers’ arms would be supported by sleeves that open up in thefrontal section (Ryan, 2015). A chest cushion would provideadditional comfort. However, there’s a lot of unanswered questionswith regards to the practicality and safety of this concept.

Knee-rescueseat

Accordingto B/E Aerospace, this seating design is part of a concept thattargets to make the cabin comfortable for taller passengers. However,the adjustments not only benefit taller passengers, but the shorterpassengers would also benefit from the closer range of the trays. Theseats are comparable to the standard aircraft seat tracks however theseat fasteners are connected to gears giving control to the airlinesto control the forward and backward movement of the seats. There arealso proposals that would make adjustments of the seats possiblethrough wireless connections using apps that would be installed onhandheld devices or tablets before boarding the plane.

Gearmovements would be controlled by the wireless actuators with just onetap on the screen. The concept would not affect the cabin layout asthe configuration in the cabin would only be adjusted to fit thesizes of different passengers. This design deviates from the conceptof a fixed seat keeping in mind the different shapes and sizes ofpassengers. A limitation of the notion would be the constantaccumulation of passenger data including their heights (Morris,2015).

Batterypowered planes

Thisinnovative technology is part of a concept developed by Airbus withthe primary aim of creating electric larger air crafts that arepowered by electricity. This technology is contributed by the need tocut down on aircraft emissions. This innovative idea could become areality given the recent advances that have been achieved by Airbussuch as the E-Fan, which is an electric powered airplane that hasalready been unveiled to the public. This aircraft has a passengercapacity of two, and there are hopes of introducing it into themarket in 2017 (Sorokanich, 2014). Even though building an electricpassenger plane is a multiple order, it is a technology that shouldbe embraced especially if we are to reduce the emissions.

Supersonicpassenger planes

Thisconcept is part of a patent that has been filed by Airbus with a bidto construct a supersonic jet. The plane would be able to fly ataltitudes of over 10,000 feet with a maximum passenger capacity oftwenty. The engines used in this plane are three in number and theywork in a sequential order to power the supersonic jet. Turbojetslocated underneath the fuselage would be used to propel the jet offthe ground. The turbojets would shut down before the plane achievingthe speed of sound after which the rocket engine would guide theaircraft into altitudes of over 100,000 feet. Once cruisingaltitudes have been reached, the rocket motors would retract inwardsto the fuselage. The ramjets would then take over and propel theplane to speeds of Mach 4.5. Hydrogen would also be used to power theaircraft. The sonic boom created by the plane at supersonic speedswould be reduced by the plane’s aerodynamics (Zhang, 2015).

Panasonicwaterfront concept suite

Theseseats provide a more holistic experience for passengers. Additionalfeatures include climate controls which regulate the temperatureconditions in the suite and customized LED lighting. Gadgets may berecharged using either USB ports, AC ports or wireless chargingsystems. Connected to a passenger’s smartphone is a highdefinition touchscreen monitor. This would enable passengers tocontrol over the in-flight entertainment system and the suiteenvironment from their phone or a tablet supplied by the airplanecrew. Light ID is the technology that would be used to integratepersonal devices with the waterfront technology system. The LED lightsource would enable smartphones to interact with the optical IDsignals which contain different types of information (kollau, 2016).

SmartTrays

Theseare tray tables designed for air crafts that would facilitate the useof portable electronic devices in a hands-free approach. As comparedto conventional tray tables, these smart trays would offer moreconvenience, comfort, superior ergonomics and improved spacemanagement. Airplanes are in need of easier and convenient trays thatare cost effective, practical and simple in nature (Smart TrayInternational LLC, 2015).

Conclusion

Thereexist different innovative concepts that have been developed and evenpatented. However, from the detailed analysis of the differentconcepts above, it’s clear that some concepts have the possibilityof quick integration into the current system while other conceptswould require a lengthier time frame before their integration. Fromthe analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of the innovativeconcepts, airlines and airport authorities could choose to adopttechnologies that would ensure passenger safety, comfort andcost-effective to the airlines.

References

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