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Imagine a cabin where the windows are display screens, relaying a choice of views from around the aircraft. If you’re not sitting in a window seat, your large seat-back display becomes your window on the world as well as a source of entertainment.
Supplement this with subtle cabin lighting from gently glowing walls and you create a unique travel environment. Screens that are ultra thin, very light and highly flexible are integrated with the fuselage or the seat backs with no unsightly, clumsy or heavy housings.
Weight is a constant issue on any aircraft. Over 80% of the fully laden weight of a commercial airliner is the aircraft itself and its fuel. For every 1% reduction in weight, the approximate fuel saving is 0.75%. If you save weight, you save fuel. And less fuel means less CO2 emissions into the atmosphere and lower operational cost… everyone wins.
High quality, ultra thin and flexible displays that can be embedded into fuselage lining panels.
Cost effective roll to roll processes of lighting and display screens that can be incorporated into fuselage lining panels.
Innovative protective coatings that ensure that these displays and lighting last for the service lifetime of the aircraft.
Digital print systems that can provide highly detailed designs necessary for large area displays.
Real time, continuous testing systems that ensure that maximum yields are achieved in manufacturing components.
Lightweight printed wiring looms can provide multiple conductors for security.
CPI has developed the technology roadmaps for printed electronics and has produced concepts that can make the Windowless Fuselage a reality.
The entire inner surface of the fuselage - or selected sections - can be covered with thin high definition, flexible displays screens onto the fuselage: either directly, or onto modular lining panels that can be used to conceal cabin utilities. This ‘multi screen’ approach means that panels can be used either as displays or for lighting, depending upon the cabin seating layout and seat pitches. This arrangement also has advantages over a single long screen running the length of the fuselage as any display faults could result in the removal of the virtual windows and lighting from an entire side of the aircraft, where the electrical losses in the system would be significant. Another advantage in this arrangement is that the system offers more flexibility in correcting the displayed images for parallax; this will increase the sensation of looking out of a window, rather than looking at a projected image.
Internal tracking cameras could be used to project the image onto the screen from the point of view of the passenger- moving the image in accordance with the movements of the passenger’s head. Images would be relayed from a series of cameras mounted on the fuselage, potentially giving each display an uninterrupted view of the exterior (avoiding the wings and engines). Users in any seat will be able to select views from any side of the aircraft. It would not be necessary to reflect the actual view seen from a particular seat, so the cameras could be mounted in the most aerodynamically efficient positions on the aircraft. The lighting panels would allow the colour changes associated with sunrise and sunset to be controlled on long haul journeys, helping passengers to adjust to time zone differences.
Using roll to roll manufacturing techniques that are currently in development at CPI, these screens could be produced at a cost that is unlikely to be any more than current displays. It will take around five years to take these processes to the point at which they are ready for full production. Of course, pre-production screens can be produced in the meantime using plastic bond/de-bond techniques and panel based lithography techniques.
CPI believes that these effects could be achieved with 50 cm high screens that match the technical specification below.
CPI is a member of the UK’s prestigious High Value Manufacturing Catapult, a network that combines seven world class centres of industrial innovation to accelerate the commercialisation of new and emerging technologies into world-beating products, for aerospace and other high value industries. CPI owns or has access to the best research and development facilities in the UK, aviation products and processes can be tested for proof-of-concept within CPIs laboratories and validated at scale through to commercial exploitation, on the ground and in the air.
CPI and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult would use their extensive networks to create a consortium of partners to deliver the benefits of such a programme. By creating an efficient manufacturing supply chain for windowless fuselage technology, the solutions developed can be rapidly commercialised.