Future airliner flight decks may do away with windows and move out of the nose of the aircraft, according to Airbus.
The European airplane maker filed a patent application Dec. 23, published June 26, for a flight deck that relies mostly or entirely on electronic viewscreens.
The first advantage is aerodynamic, since flight deck windows require interrupting the ideal scalpel shape of the nose, Airbus wrote. Also, big windows and the reinforcement required for them add weight to the aircraft.
Putting the flight deck at the front of the cabin takes valuable space away from the cabin, “thereby limiting the financial profits for the airline company exploiting the aircraft,” Airbus wrote.
Without the need for windows, the flight deck could move “to an unused zone of the aircraft, and in particular into a zone difficult to configure for receiving passengers or freight,” Airbus wrote. One possibility is the base of the tail, where the flight deck could still have some windows. Another is in part of the cargo hold.
Finally, relying more on viewscreens would improve pilots’ perception and awareness, by giving a more complete view of what’s going on outside the aircraft, according to Airbus.
In addition to the viewscreens, Airbus envisions a system that could project holograms of objects such as storm clouds and ground obstacles, and chart a course around them.
“The object of this preferred version is to immerse the pilot in a three-dimensional universe, at the center of the action,” Airbus wrote.
Click through the gallery above to see images from Airbus’ patent application.
As a pilot my first reaction was shock, horror, disgust, what a stupid idea, Meh, who cares? It does sound like a dumb idea at first. I mean, a cockpit with no windows? unheard of! But when you think about it, it does make a lot of sense. The advantage in aerodynamics reduced weight alone would make it worthwhile. “But Kerry,” you ask, “what would happen if you lost electrical power? The fancy view screens wouldn’t work and you’d be screwed!” Good question, and the answer is that, yes, you’d be screwed. But there are a whole lot of things that can break in an airliner that result in your being screwed, this is just one more. What pilot’s who think this is a dumb idea need to consider is that there is a very good reason to fly from the tail of an aircraft, It’s usually the only part of an aircraft that’s left intact after a crash. Or to look at it another way, we used to be the first ones at the scene of the crash now we can be the last!