Airbus shows off a see-thru concept plane (w/ video)

Jun 14, 2011 by Katie Gatto weblog

(PhysOrg.com) -- Airbus has begun to show off its version of the plane of the future. It is somewhere between cool and disturbing, depending on who you ask, but it definitely represents some interesting new technology that could make flying more energy efficient and a give you something a lot more interesting to look at then the in-flight movie.

The presentations, which took place in London, feature concept art from the design that the company hopes one day to make into a flying model. The plane would be almost completely see-through, thanks to the creation of a biopolymer membrane. This membrane would make every seat into a window seat by default and allow you to see the world below as you pass it by.

The real power saving innovation was alluded to by Charles Champion, head of engineering for . When he described the plane to Telegraph he described a section of the plane known as the SmartTech zone. In this zone users body heat is converted in to power for the plane. Mr. Champion was not specific about in which systems would use as a power source and which would not, which has raised some speculation as to what exactly humans will be the for.

The plane is not expected to be released until the year 2050, if it ever makes it off of the drawing board to begin with, so do not expect to be getting rides in a see-thru plane any time in the near future.

Explore further: Mercedes-Benz 2025 truck shows autonomous system vision

More information:
via Telegraph

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User comments : 22

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stealthc
3.7 / 5 (6) Jun 14, 2011
ummm it won't take that long given see through metals that were just invented (plus ways of making stronger metals recently invented). There are big changes coming in aviation. 2050 is a joke.
pokerdice1
Jun 14, 2011
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
NotAsleep
5 / 5 (6) Jun 14, 2011
This will make birdstikes EXTRA exciting!

I'm pretty certain there was a transporter room in the video... I want those in 2050 just like people from the 1960s wanted jet packs by today
pokerdice1
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 14, 2011
If we had, always in the past, went by corporate time-lines the light-bulb and the airplane itself would still be on the drawing board, more precisely a blackboard. Anyway, I hope Stealthc is correct in his implications.
extremity
5 / 5 (4) Jun 14, 2011
2050 is a pretty unrealistic project goal. That means they have no idea how they are actually going to design it or build it and that its just an interesting picture at this point. Even if 5 years to finance, 5 years to design, and 10 years to build, that would be aiming @ around the 2030's. Keep in mind, super tankers and aircraft carriers, take around 3-7 years to build.
Mayday
5 / 5 (7) Jun 14, 2011
In my experience as a private pilot, most people do not much enjoy the idea of flying. And when in a plane or helicopter with a wide panoramic view, they tend to find it disturbing. I personally would love a see-through airplane, even glass-bottomed.

But I did LOL at the leg room they show in coach. Reality is quickly trending in the opposite direction. By 2050, airlines will likely require you to "check" you legs before boarding.
poof
1 / 5 (3) Jun 14, 2011
Oh wow, heat harvesting tech, why stop there lets just go straight for teleportation.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Jun 14, 2011
This is not new. Superpeople had these decades ago.
http://dc.wikia.c...ible_Jet
harryhill
not rated yet Jun 14, 2011
2050--things can change in that time frame.
By then, teleport will be in vogue. No leg cramps...no baggage fees. No losing baggage...maybe a human during a power glitch(s) or operator error...plenty humans where they came from.
Moebius
3.7 / 5 (6) Jun 14, 2011
Teleportation is impossible and even if it isn't it kills you and makes a clone of you at the other end. You first, I'll walk.
Temple
5 / 5 (2) Jun 14, 2011
One wonders what sort of technology might be powered by the heat differential between a human body and comfortable room temperature.
cyborge
3 / 5 (2) Jun 15, 2011
Humans output between 70 and 870 watts according to wikipedia.
I've heard 400 watts tossed around before as an average, in cooler temperatures. Apparently it was good to have bodies hanging around castles( pardon the pun) in the old days to keep the place relatively warm. 300 passengers times 400 watts, equals approx 120KW/ hour. Hmmmm... now where do we put the treadmills ?
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jun 15, 2011

I've heard 400 watts tossed around before as an average, in cooler temperatures.


More like 100 Watts.

100 W * 3600 s * 24 = 8640 kJ = 2 065 kcal per day.

400 Watts is the average power an ordinary person in good shape can sustain in exercise. E.g. riding a bike. The actual work output however, is much smaller, because people are about as efficient as car engines in turning food to motion.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jun 15, 2011
One wonders what sort of technology might be powered by the heat differential between a human body and comfortable room temperature.


A clock.

The surface area of a person is roughly 2 square meters, and the heat output is roughly 100 Watts, so if your wrist watch has a contact area of 10 cm^2 it gets a heat flux of 50 milliwatts.

The recoverable power from that heat flux is 2.75 milliwatts at maximum between body temperature and 20 C, and about 0.3 mW with real thermoelectric devices.

Your cellphone's standby power is on the order of 10-20 mW.

As you can already guess, the problem of harnessing people power is that if you want to get energy out of it, you have to cover the skin with something that cools you down, or lock the people up into a room that is covered in thermoelectric devices, where the interior temperature is 37 degrees C.
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Jun 15, 2011
How come I didn't see any high tech barf bags in the video simulation?
jscroft
5 / 5 (1) Jun 15, 2011
Acupuncture in the sky? Good Lord. If my future is going to be narrated by a Frenchman, I quit.
Decimatus
5 / 5 (1) Jun 15, 2011
Does anyone seriously want to sit on an 8 hour plane ride, not only all cramped with no leg room, but with the full un-clouded sun blasting them in the face the whole way?

I think not.
NotAsleep
not rated yet Jun 15, 2011
2050 is a pretty unrealistic project goal. That means they have no idea how they are actually going to design it or build it and that its just an interesting picture at this point. Even if 5 years to finance, 5 years to design, and 10 years to build, that would be aiming @ around the 2030's. Keep in mind, super tankers and aircraft carriers, take around 3-7 years to build.


They started designing the F-22 in the early 1980s and the first somewhat-functional production unit didn't roll off the line until 2001. In contrast, the Boeing 787 development started in 2003 and is scheduled to begin delivery at the end of this year. If the commercial sector really decides they want this, I'll bet they get it pretty quick...

Obviously, with 50 years of lead time, the industry doesn't want it too badly
xznofile
not rated yet Jun 15, 2011
Sell it to the public first, maybe start with a promo video.
Vendicar_Decarian
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 15, 2011
Are you kidding? By 2050 technology will be so advanced that everyone will have pocket controllers that reduce the output of the sun to comfortable levels.

Some people are already working on the technology, using Neutron/Neutron repulsion theory to inject Neutrons into the Iron Neutron Star that sits at the center of our sun.

"Does anyone seriously want to sit on an 8 hour plane ride, not only all cramped with no leg room, but with the full un-clouded sun blasting them in the face the whole way?" - Decimatus
StandingBear
not rated yet Jun 19, 2011
Ahhhh yes, AirBus! Isn't that the company that Jay Leno or Conan Underwood said built aircraft that floated better than they flew? That after one did a landing in New York City East River International 'Sea'air...port.....and it floated long enough for all the passengers to get out that could get out.
Gilbert
5 / 5 (1) Jun 19, 2011
And imagine the view when the pilot decides to crash!
poof
5 / 5 (1) Jun 19, 2011
So everyone's gonna see eachother take a dump? Now thats high tech.