If you are an aerospace engineer then this sight would make you beyond happy, whereas, if you are anyone but an aerospace engineer you’d first be amazed, then worried and finally worried to such an extent that you might file a report against the company. The sight that we are talking is the one where you walk from boarding area to your plane and realize that the plane doesn’t have any windows but rather a smooth cone of aluminium that is staring at you instead of the cockpit. Airbus, however, is betting on this vision and has applied for a US patent application where it has outlined a unique cockpit design, which transforms the traditional cockpit into one that relies on 3D view screens while letting go of the windows.
Why do we have cockpits located at the nose of the plane anyway? It’s not like the pilots need to see to know where they’re going (if they did, cockpit wouldn’t have all those shiny gadgets and what not). It is to enable pilots to allow to look forward and downward while they land and during taxiing. This, however, takes a heavy toll on the aerodynamics of the plane’s nose that would, ideally speaking, be shaped like a lancet.
There’s a reason why this post opening kicks off with why aerospace engineers would like this particular patent that Airbus is applying for. Windows, as aerospace engineers see them, are a weakness that should not exist in the hull. It should be as perfect a cylinder as it can get because well, incorporating windows means you are weakening the fuselage. Incorporating windows means that structural modifications have to be made to the fuselage while adding more layers of plastic and glass in order to further increase the fuselage integrity.
The patent demonstrates a cockpit that is windowless with almost no windows or partial views of the outside world. Instead, the outside world is displayed via back projection, holograms, OLED imaging systems that is fed by cameras installed on the outside of the fuselage and lasers. Apart from this assembly, cameras are installed to cater for the taxiing and parking while also making use of augmented reality in order to highlight weather conditions, air routes, navigation beacons, hazards and any other useful information. There are Star Wars inspired holographic displays of a globe displaying navigation and weather data as well.
If Airbus can pull this off then the results would be spectacular; pilot’s field of view will increase, flexibility in display of information, reduction in plane’s weight and subsequent increase in efficiency. This would also help security by hardening the cabin even more or even separating it entirely from the cabin that holds passengers.
Let’s see how this patent pans out and whether the public is willing to accept this change!