What’s next in airline tech
New technology could revolutionise the way we fly in the not too distant future, changing everything from turbulence to carry- on baggage.
No one likes turbulence. In an effort to combat it, American Airlines employs its own meteorologist, Steve Abelman, to gather data and help pilots avoid it. He’s excited about new automated sensors that gather data and relay it to pilots and dispatchers in real time. That means they can change their flight plans based on the report. “This is all done without the pilot having to write anything down and without the pilot having to call air traffic control and without air traffic control having to relay something,” Abelman said.
German airline catering company SkyTender want to revolutionise the way we eat and drink onboard. Their custom drink trolleys would dispense fountain-style soft drinks and specialty coffee (like cappuccinos and flat whites), doing away with cans and watery drip or instant coffee. One airline in Europe is currently trialling the carts and has found that people buy three times as many drinks as usual.
Stale air in a plane is a common complaint. Panasonic Avionics is developing an air-deodorising system that purifies the air around a passenger’s seat using nano-sized electrostatic atomized particles to neutralise air, and battle viruses and bacteria. It claims the area will then smell like clean sheets.
Cabin baggage is often a source of conflict when flying and it can be hard to find a bin with enough space. Airbus is rolling out a system that shows which bins have space left in them using a lighting system – red for full, green for space. Airlines could be using the system by 2021. Boeing wants to use technology to alert ground staff when the overhead bins are reaching capacity, so they can start checking large carry-on bags.