With the debut flight of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner yesterday at the UK’s Farnborough Airshow, rival Airbus unveiled its plans to construct an attention grabber of its own, a new concept plane.
The plane’s design and images were released today at the airshow, which will go on for another two weeks. The concept plane is envisioned as a next-generation ‘engineer’s dream’ with features that will meet projections of the requirements of passengers in the future, according to an Airbus press release. The plane is also planned to be eco-friendly—Airbus engineers envision a lower fuel burn, a significant cut in fuel emissions, less noise and greater comfort.
The concept plane is perhaps one small step in Airbus’s response to the Boeing’s Dreamliner, known for its fuel efficiency, as part of the ongoing competition between the two companies.
Back in 2005 when Airbus’s A380 first made its debut, it surpassed Boeing 747 with 49% more floor space, becoming the world’s largest passenger airliner. 5 years later, Boeing Co. presented the Dreamliner, which pulled the company ahead of Airbus in eco-efficiency rather than size.
For the Airbus concept plane design, engineers envision an ultra-long passenger plane with slim wings, semi-embedded engines and a U-shaped tail, all built with lightweight "intelligent" materials. In addition to its futuristic external structure, engineers also suggest a radical interior design, such as seats made out of ecological, self-cleaning materials, walls that become see-through at the touch of a button, and holographic projections of virtual decors, allowing travelers to transform their private cabins into settings matching their own interests.
As intriguing as the idea is, the Airbus aircraft will need another four decades to become reality as the plane is intended to target passengers of 2050—though Airbus hopes with quick developments in technology, the plane could be in production as early as 2030. Airbus hopes to use the energy efficient concept plane to attract elites of the younger generation towards the project.
“It’s not a real aircraft and all the technologies it features, though feasible, are not likely to come together in the same manner. Here we are stretching our imagination and thinking beyond our usual boundaries,” said Charles Champion, Executive Vice President Engineering at Airbus.
“With the Airbus concept plane we want to stimulate young people from all over the world to engage with us so that we can continue to share the benefits of air transport while also looking after the environment.”
Airbus concept plane notwithstanding, it is the Boeing 787 Dreamliner that has been the spotlight of the Farnborough Airshow since its arrival yesterday.
"We gave tours to media and VIP guests Sunday and I think it’s fair to say our visitors couldn’t get over the size of the windows, the new bins and other Dreamliner innovations," wrote Randy Tinseth, vice president, marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Seattle.