What will travel look like in 2035? That’s a question Airbus is working to answer, with bold ideas from touchscreen windows and forest-like interiors all getting thrown into the mix. A new concept gives us a tantalising glimpse of how these and more could be realised.
Unveiled ahead of next week’s Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg, the ‘Airbus Airspace Cabin Vision 2035+’ brings sustainability to the forefront, with the manufacturer noting cabins can contribute up to 20% of the aircraft’s environmental impact over its life cycle.
In an effort to reduce this, it sought input from ten airlines including Air New Zealand, Delta and Lufthansa, as well as to eight technology companies on ways to not only slash weight and emissions but also reuse and recycle.
They had some great ideas too, both for Airbus’ traditional single-aisle and futuristic ‘blended wing body’ (BWB) hydrogen-powered ZEROe jets, which it aims to have in the sky by 2035.
Perhaps the most striking is the forest-like cabin on the BWB jet, where seats fan out under the branches of ‘bionic’ central pillars and a starry night sky is projected onto the ceiling above.
The outside view would also be shown on wrap-around screens lining the walls, while windows would function like personalised tablets, showcasing temperature, time and more with a tap.
Seating choices range from your standard economy, which doesn’t appear to have changed much, to staggered business-like armchairs and a first class double-throne perched at the nose of the cabin. (Cue the ‘I’m flying!’ pose from Titanic.)
Catering also gets a hearty overhaul, giving passengers the ability to select meals at the gate on short range flights, as well as pre-order on longer trips. This could result in a 15% reduction in waste, while also trimming trolleys (and their associated weight) by up to 35%.
After scanning a QR code at a meal station, a neatly-packed lunchbox emerges from a locker, ready to be carried onboard. Sushi, salads and wraps all make the cut.
Airbus aims to further reduce weight and wastage through its material choices, suggesting seats could be made of biobased fabrics (derived from crops such as corn and sugarcane), walls of 3D knitted materials and water recycling even take place after every flush.
In addition to firing imaginations with the Airspace Cabin Vision 2035+ concept, Airbus is also working on greener propulsion options, including those aforementioned hydrogen-powered ZEROe aircraft plus fully-electric CityAirbus NextGen eVTOL, set for take-off in 2030.
While this is all firmly in the concept phase, Airspace Cabin Vision 2035+ does give an idea of where the heads of designers and engineers are at, and what may be around the bend.
More details are expected to be revealed at AIX in Hamburg from June 6-8.