Simulation technologies could soon begin augmenting long air travel flights, making the journey far more interesting for passengers.
When the Concorde, a supersonic aircraft designed in Europe, was making runs between Washington and London in the space of three hours, it appeared as if the future of air travel would be faster, smaller aircraft. Put simply—the opposite has occurred.
In place of small aircraft capable of transporting people at a fast pace, we are now relegated to big, relatively slow aircraft, boasting passenger capacities several times greater than the Concorde.
So—where to from here? If we were to ditch the traditional aircraft that we are all now accustom to, the use of simulation technologies could be the answer to achievable and enjoyable supersonic travel.
As part of developing supersonic aircraft, removing windows has always been seen as a strong option, as it greatly improves structural integrity. When travelling beyond the sound barrier, it is common for aircraft to experience substantial frame stress, and by removing windows, an unbroken airframe could be created.
Without having to account for windows, the costs can be kept down substantially. The issue of visibility, however, presents itself.
The idea of sitting in an enclosed cabin for several hours, with no perception of the outside world, is unlikely to impress many passengers—even more so than the leg room and flight food complaints we have presently.
By using virtual reality technologies, a passenger could avoid the enclosed cabin and see the entire space around the plane, including the ground below. This could be achieved using cameras mounted externally, connecting to screens visible to passengers.
In terms of traditional aircraft, this could help to relax passengers on long flights, and make the flying experience more enjoyable and perhaps even interactive.
The possibilities of what supersonic travel could achieve are endless. By filling a demand from those requiring frequent global travel in a short space of time, new supersonic jets may be in the skies again soon—though this time without windows.