Imagine being on a flight where, in place of windows, screens lining the cabin project images of the sky outside. New technology that could help reduce the weight of an aircraft could soon see windowless planes take to the air.
Plastic display screens for use in aircraft cabins are one of several applications of printable electronics that are being developed at the Centre for Process Innovation in Sedgefield in northeast England, part of the government’s network of technology centres known as “catapults”.
位于英国东北部塞奇菲尔德的工艺流程创新中心(Centre of Process Innovation，简称CPI)正在研发数种基于“印刷电子”技术的应用，其中就包括用在飞机机舱里的塑料显示屏。这一中心是英国政府牵头的、由多个研发中心组成的被称为“弹射器”网络的一部分。
By using conductive inks, printed electronics – technology that has long promised to enliven products from perfume bottles to food packaging – can incorporate electrical circuits in cardboard and plastic for just a few pence per unit. In pharmaceuticals, smart packaging could tell a patient when to take their medication, for example.
But it is the technology’s potential to help aircraft manufacturers create a windowless plane that is causing most excitement at the CPI for now. By replacing windows with an interactive plastic display screen, the weight of the aircraft would be reduced, helping to lower fuel costs.
“Getting weight out of a plane is a key [goal] for the industry,” says Tom Taylor, who is part of the management team at CPI.
While the windowless plane is not a new concept – freight aircraft and military jets tend not to have windows – commercial aircraft manufacturers have put off the idea until now because of concerns it would be unpopular with passengers.
One US aerospace company has announced plans, though. This year Spike Aerospace said it would include a windowless cabin in its Spike S-512 Supersonic Jet, which is due to launch in 2018.
不过，有一家名为Spike Aerospace的美国航空航天公司今年表示，其2018年将会推出的Spike S-512超音速客机，就将配备无窗式机舱。
Vik Kachoria, president of Spike Aerospace, believes the benefits of what he calls the “multiplex digital cabin” will help win over passengers. “They will soon be able to experience a wonderful panoramic view of the outside world,” he says.
Spike Aerospace首席执行官维克•凯乔里亚(Vik Kachoria)相信，他所谓的“多重数字化机舱”会因为好处众多而赢得乘客。他表示：“他们很快就能体验到对舱外世界的绝佳全景式观感。”
However, he says the company plans to include several windows for emergency purposes, which passengers will be able to use for a “quick look” outside.