Will Future Planes Be Windowless?

  • For every 1% of weight reduction, fuel usage is reduced by .75%.

    For every 1% of weight reduction, fuel usage is reduced by .75%.

  • The ultra-thin screens would show high-definition footage of the surrounding skies.

    The ultra-thin screens would show high-definition footage of the surrounding skies.

  • The proposal could take 20-30 years to become a reality.

    The proposal could take 20-30 years to become a reality.

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Imagine flying in a plane with no windows yet being surrounded by sky. In a new proposal by the Centre for Process Innovation, a British technology innovation center, airplane windows would be foregone in favor of floor-to-ceiling scenes that show live video footage from outside the plane. The display would be cast on ultra-thin, flexible OLED screens integrated into the body of the aircraft as well as seat backs, which would double as entertainment systems.

Awesome visuals aside, the futuristic proposal has another goal in mind. One of the major factors in how much fuel an aircraft consumes is how much it weighs, and the two biggest contributors to weight are not passengers and baggage but rather the fuel itself and its fuselage, or physical frame of the aircraft—together, they comprise more than 80 percent of an aircraft’s weight at takeoff. Removing windows considerably lessens the weight, which therefore lessens the cost of fuel and carbon emissions. Like many proposals, this one would take some time to realize for the consumer market—two decades or more, CPI estimates—so there’s plenty of time still to snap those beloved window-seat shots of the clouds from above.

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