Windowless planes: the future of commercial air travel?

20 June 2018 - 09:51 By AFP Relaxnews
Could the passenger planes of the future have no windows?
Could the passenger planes of the future have no windows?
Image: iStock / Baona

What if the passenger planes of the future had no windows? It's a question that's worth asking, since the president of the Dubai-based airline, Emirates, is seriously considering windowless planes for the future of air travel.

The idea is by no means fantasy. Indeed, Airbus spokesman Jacques Rocca confirmed to French regional daily newspaper, Ouest France, that widows aren't strictly necessary on passenger planes anyway: "Windows bring visual comfort to passengers and prevent feelings of claustrophobia. They don't actually serve any purpose. Moreover, windowless planes already exist, in the form of cargo planes for freight companies (FedEx, UPS or JAS)."

Removing passenger windows could save 50% of the weight of an aircraft, in turn reducing fuel consumption. It would also reduce the risk of glass windows breaking or smashing, leading to cabin depressurisation.

Back in April, the engine of a Southwest Airlines plane exploded mid-flight, blowing out a passenger window at 32,000 feet.

Passenger windows could instead be replaced by screens, creating virtual windows by displaying the view outside in real time. Plenty of long-haul planes already show footage from external cameras, installed at the front of and underneath the plane.

Removing windows could also quash the perceived privilege of the window seat, so passengers seated in the middle of the plane may feel less disappointed.