Researchers are constantly working on ways to reduce the weight of an aircraft because the reason why most planes need so much fuel is due to how heavy the plane is and subsequently, the increased fuel load needed to keep that plane in the air. Recently, UK researchers have come up with a viable solution involving the replacement of heavy windows with lightweight smart panels in order to cut down on both fuel costs and airline fares. If you look at cargo planes, there are no windows and therefore, it removes much of the bulky surfaces (and weight!) needed to reinforce plane windows. According to the Center for Process Innovation (CPI), this could be a possibility within the next decade.
Imagine a plane where the window are replaced with hi-definition screens that can display any number of things including what is going on outside (via cameras mounted on the plane’s exterior), watch television, or browse the internet using the delightful touch screen pad. The images that you see will also move in accordance to how your head turns, so you will also be able to see your picture! If you choose to go for the scenic view, it will also reflect color/light changes to help you adjust to time zones during long flights.
The early designs for these aircrafts are modeled after current phones and television sets that utilize organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) which produce its own light when connected to electricity. OLEDs have an advantage over plasma and LCD displays because they do not need a backlight, therefore requiring less energy to run and can be made thinner.
However, the reasons why these planes do not exist already primarily has to do with a). how terribly sensitive these OLEDs are to water moisture and b). their need to be protected by inflexible plastic. Although it is possible to create flexible transistors (the connector parts!), if they were able to create OLEDs that were also flexible, CPI would be able to actually print these OLEDs onto displays that will be able to bend without the picture breaking. Until CPI is able to develop a cost-efficient means of constructing flexible OLEDs that can withstand the pressures of aerospace, we will just have to work with awkward and bulky window surfaces that no amount of fidgeting can make comfortable.
This video below shows just what CPI intends to do with their plans of a windowless aircraft:
Can you imagine other possibilities for this as well? Imagine instead of picking out the wallpaper you like, you could print OLEDs onto sheets, effectively creating a source of light and entertainment in any room!
WHY ARE WE NOT FUNDING THIS, AMERICA? I’m not sure if you have noticed this but plane tickets have not dropped in price and somehow, we have lost the cargo storage option (unless you want to pay to “rent” the space). LET’S GET ON TOP OF THIS.