Could these five tech concepts change aviation forever?

Airbus has taken to crowdsourcing to brainstorm new ideas for aviation technology, asking teams across the globe to deliver some new technologies that could push aviation further.

The top five concepts take interesting approaches that tackle aviation’s 2% share of global carbon omissions, reduce bird strikes, eliminate collisions, re-configure the standard galley trolley and fully-electric ground operations.

Reducing aviation with composite skin

The idea of using new skins on airplane fuselages is growing in popularity, given advances in solar panels and thin conductive materials.

MULTIFUN is a concept that covers a plane’s wings in a composite skin that harvest energy from the movement of the wings. The team explains:

Piezoelectric fibres gather electrical charges from even the smallest movements during flight, storing the energy generated in battery panels integrated in the fuselage and using it to power auxiliary in-flight systems, such as lighting and entertainment systems. This reduces the energy footprint of aircraft during flight and could even replace the entire power source for ground operations.

The ability for this technology to be retrofit onto existing planes is especially appealing.

Mutifun GR

Preventing birdstrikes

Incidents involving birds and planes are on the rise and there are relatively few technologies in existence that focus exclusively on mitigating this aviation risk.

The Birdport concept is one that uses drones as decoys and shepards to move birds away from airfields and onto a “birdport,” or nearby habitat created for the birds’ enjoyment. The concept works thusly:

The drones use tactics of separation, alignment and cohesion to manipulate flocks and divert them to Birdport, where birdsong and decoys are used to create a natural and safe habitat for birds in the area. The idea is designed to reduce bird strikes to aircraft significantly and to enhance aircraft availability.

Increased safety at airports is paramount — although adding another layer of complexity with drones seems to be less than ideal.

GR birdport

Gaming-inspired anti-collision system

Motion sensing technology was the inspiration for a concept that uses wing-tip sensors to avoid collisions between planes. Originally used in video games, the technology here would create an intra-aircraft guidance system while taxiing. From the pitch:

The model uses infra-red and visual information to warn the pilot and ground crew of high-risk obstacles. This is designed to reduce the turnaround time of aircraft between flights and the cost of damage, saving airlines millions per year.

GR aft-burner-reverser

Rethinking the galley trolley

Sorting trash can be a huge headache in between flights, causing delays and operational challenges — especially for low-cost carriers. Of course, many airlines sort trash while they retrieve it during flight.

However, that process is also challenged by the one-size fits all style of the classic trolley. The team refreshed the trolley to facilitate sorting and recycling. From the pitch:

The team’s bespoke trolley is designed to intelligently sort rubbish and recycling by minimising the volume of foils, paper and plastic and collecting residual fluid. In doing so, the weight of galley equipment can be reduced by up to 30kg reducing fuel consumption and offering more space in-flight for refreshments.

retrolley 1

Wireless power transfer through the tarmac

This one would be quite expensive and the disruption would be hard to manage in increasingly congested airports — but it certainly is ambitious.

The idea is to embed capture coils in the ground and on the planes that would create a wireless power transfer which could then reduce pollution, noise and vehicles required for ground ops.

Transmitter sections on the ground, located just underneath the aircraft in the tarmac, transfer electrical power inductively to a receiver placed between the nose-wheels. This provides a sustainable energy source to power ground operations, reducing carbon emissions by half.

GR bolleboos

For more, including sketches of the original concepts, browse on over here.

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Nick Vivion

About the Writer :: Nick Vivion

Nick helps brands blog better at Ghost Works, a boutique blog management service. Nick was previously the Director of Content for tnooz, where he oversaw the editorial and commercial content as well as producing/hosting tnoozLIVE.

 

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  1. John Squi

    The five high-tech concepts are interesting; however, none would prevent an airline from financial disaster should a real or perceived pandemic and/or epidemic scare surface – which experts predict will occur within the next 12 to 18 months. Twice in the 20 years, airlines suffered massive layoffs bankruptcies, consolidation and some just simply vanished, much in part to peoples fear of acquiring an illness in an aircraft. People simply stopped flying – some of those fears persist today.

    For the most part, the concepts are expensive, untested and fantasies far from implementation. These are big dollar projects with questionable benefits, typical for the industry. Not one provides passengers and crew with a more superior flying experience, especially when it comes to safety and health. In fact, the concepts don’t provide passengers and crew with any benefit at all.

    Health of passengers and crew are essential to keeping airlines profitable and flying. That is a concept that must receive the highest amount of consideration. There are low cost, micro-miniature (virtually invisible), lightweight (71 grams) hand-hygiene technologies existing today that could preempt havoc resulting from scare of Infectious Disease spreading via aircraft.

    Installed into seats, passengers could clean their hands, face and surfaces around them anytime they want, for as long as they want, without the dispenser ever going empty. Dispensers will also be installed in galleys, lavatories, crew quarters, lounges and cockpit. 80% of disease is spread by contact; thus, any way to keep hands clean is a benefit to all.

    As there are no gears, motors, or mechanical parts, dispensers should never require maintenance. The formulation is without alcohol; thus, safer for the skin. 96% of nearly 5,500 passengers and crew surveyed reported the technology should be mandated.

    Further studies of 15 airlines indicated that nearly $1.5 Billion in additional revenue could be generated when systems are installed. Not only does the technology provide healthier conditions that passengers can touch, feel, smell, etc., but also generates big money for airlines to invest in concepts that might have questionable benefit.

    So, the question – are long-term concept projects more valuable and worthy of recognition than technologies that exist with near term ability to keep all who fly in aircraft healthy?

    Henry Ford asked people how modes of transportation could be improved. Respondents suggested faster horses. Nobody envisioned the automobile as a viable benefit to travel.

    Steve Jobs asked people how the cell phone could be more improved. Bigger buttons was one of many responses. Nobody even envisioned the smartphone. Again the world was changed.

    Airlines seem to think they know what passengers want; however, they don’t. Airline surveys don’t ask the right questions. A simple survey asking passengers and especially crew their opinion of having hand-hygiene capabilities at their seat or work location would provide surprising results – in the high 90%’s.

     
 
 

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