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The Future of Air Travel

Nazita Saye

Nazita Saye

Posted Jun 16, 2011

I travel a fair bit. Sometimes it’s a short hop across the channel to the Continent and sometimes it’s a long haul flight to the States.

Regardless of whether the flight is one hour, 3 hours or 15 hours, you mentally need to prepare yourself for several things: sitting next to someone with a cold/cough, sitting behind someone who will immediately recline their seat and reduce your usable leg space to less than nothing and even figuring out when to check in so you wouldn’t get stuck with the dreaded center seat. If you’re a frequent flyer like me you’ve come across all of these situations and have no doubt come up with your own defensive tactics. On my last flight from Frankfurt, as soon as we took off, the person sitting next to me struck a pose that a yogi would have been proud of. She placed her knees behind the seat in front of her in such a way that the person in front was unable to recline his seat. Her action made me laugh to myself because it reminded me of a news clip I’d read a couple of weeks earlier – about the two passengers that got into a fist fight over reclining seats. If you haven’t read the story, here’s a link . Mind you air rage is nothing to laugh at and I was relieved that on this flight, the guy sitting in front of her was ok with not being able to recline his seat.

We are all human. We have the same need for air, water and food. And depending on where we were born and live, we need a bit of personal space around us.  For example, as an American I feel most comfortable when I have a bit of personal space – I’d say about a couple of feet. Friends and family members can enter my personal space as much as they please but when strangers enter my personal space, that’s when I start to feel a bit uneasy.  Call it personal space or territoriality but we all feel it.

Airbus of the future. Image courtesy of Airbus.

So I was really pleased to see that the engineers at Airbus have finally recognized the most common/base need for frequent travellers: air, water, food and personal space. Thanks to the magic of visualization software, the engineers at Airbus have released a short clip on the airplane design of the future. If you haven’t seen the clip yet, here’s a link . I love the idea of dropping off your carry-on at the door and it catching up with you in the overhead bin, the see-through cabin where you float over clouds, the bar that pops out of the floor and the seats that recline and give you personal space. How brilliant of a design is this?

And you know what’s even more brilliant? The technology needed for designing such a plane exists today. All these new fancy features will be driven by electronics of various shapes and sizes. And airflow needs to be optimized inside the cabin to ensure passenger comfort. With CAD and CAE tools such as FloTHERM, FloEFD and FloVENT you can easily overcome the design challenges for creating products and environments that would make such a plane a reality.

According to Airbus we should expect to fly in planes like this by 2050. I just hope they would speed up the timeframe a bit.
Until next time,

FloVENT, Visualization

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About Nazita Saye

Nazita SayeI have been involved with the CFD user community in one shape or another since 1999 -- when the NIKA team first introduced FloWorks to the engineering community. Over the years I've seen the market evolve and I still marvel at the wide range of products that are being designed with our tools. As the Manager of External Communications for the Mechanical Analysis Division at Mentor, it is my privilege to bring some of our customer stories to you. Visit CFD doesn’t mean Color For Directors

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