Future Challenges for the Airline Industry
Design Highlights and Trends
Nobody can resist the changes we experience daily. The airline industry knows it and they are starting to respond to the great challenges they are facing. What is the future aircrafts going to look like?
The tubular world
The tubular aircraft structure is here to stay for at least another 30 years, so the industry will have to get creative to enable larger passenger density in the same amount of space. We have witnessed several solutions thus far that address this issue such as double deck in a single cabin or seat stools. These solutions might seem far away but fuel prices will raise in time and airplanes are not going to get any bigger, so don’t be surprised if they become a reality.
Personalized & memorable experiences
With aircraft architecture as a main limitation, airlines will need to compensate with a greater experience, more customized towards each passenger and more flexible. Technology will be a key player in this improved experience enabling the customer to design their own experience prior to the flight. In the same way they plan their trips, they will be able to arrange their flight “configuration”. We are already seeing some examples of this: Latam”s On Board Magazine. According to APEX the Airline Passenger Experience Association, 75% of millennials value experience over material objects.
Flexible & comfortable solutions
Another key point in this ideal customer experience will be related to cabin space and seats, as they will become more flexible, allowing passengers to work, rest and play at any time. Expect to see the latest technologies, including full connectivity with all devices. New comfort technologies such as aromatherapy or light therapy will be included to help passengers cope with the long trips. Seats will be treated as passengers” kingdoms, peaceful cocoons with everything at the reach of their fingertips.
Towards fly sharing
Sharing services like Uber Chopper will take a small piece of the pie, being a market player for short and medium haul flights. These services have the flexibility passengers demand from airlines and will add pressure to transform the industry, as it has happened with ground transportation. Expect to see some serious changes, reselling your ticket and even more incredible last minute deals could become a reality.
It is a fact that engines are getting more efficient, fuel prices will rise in the long-term and e-technologies are surfacing in parallel sectors (eg. automotive). Sometime in the next few years, we should see a switch towards green energy in the aircraft industry. Although now it is at a pioneering stage, for example: Solar Impulse, it should become a reality in the next 50 years. This technological leap will be accompanied by a change in aircraft architecture, with larger and wider cabins, and unusual shapes that will allow for larger passenger density and less energy consumption. We have already seen great unorthodox concepts from Airbus or NASA.
As a highly competitive industry that hasn’t changed a lot in the past few years, it will be exciting to see how external elements impact the evolution of the aircraft industry.
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