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Surprising Science

British Innovators Propose Windowless Airplane Design

According to designers at the Centre for Process Innovation, airplane windows are unnecessarily heavy and should be replaced by light-weight OLED screens projecting images from outside the plane on the inner walls.

The unending mission to remove as much excess weight from commercial aircraft design has a new target: windows. As Slate blogger Lily Hay Newman explains, those tiny rectangles lining the sides of the fuselage require heavy materials to keep them securely in place. Designers at the British Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) want to do away with all that. Instead, they propose projecting images of the outside sky on flexible, light-weight OLED screens that wrap around the plane’s innards. Doing so would reduce weight, cost, and fuel consumption.

You can watch CPI’s promo video for this unique design here.

While a massive video wall featuring sky views, flight information and entertainment options is certainly a cool concept, one’s inner cynic dreads what such an innovation would do for the barf bag industry. Outside of routine air sickness, there’s also going to come a time when a plane’s video walls malfunction or go completely blank. What then?

These are all elements that CPI will look into over the next decade as they perfect their design and prepare it for commercial use. Their logic is sound: if the goal is to reduce weight, removing windows (as they do in cargo planes) is key. Whether consumers’ comfort and biases will supercede that logic remains to be seen.

Until then, I recommend you lovers of the window seat cherish your portholes… while they last.

Read more at Slate

Photo credit: CPI via Slate


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