While 2015 hasn’t brought us the hoverboards that Back to the Future promised, it has seen plenty of innovation in travel industry – particularly within airspace. Here’s just four of the top innovations that we’ve seen this year…
Return of the jetpack
This year we saw Yves Rossy take one of the only working jetpacks for a flight over Dubai. "If you have a dream or an idea then you need to try it, no matter how crazy it is," explains Rossy. "Flying is a really old dream for humans, we are pushing the realisation of that dream one step further, I’m not playing with death, I’m playing with life." Take a look at his video…
Bigger than ever
This year saw crowdfunding for the world’s largest aircraft completed. Airlander is an aircraft that can stay in the air for extended periods (think weeks rather than hours or days). They envisage it being used for academic research into climate change in the arctic for example, or for boosting communications by carrying a mobile mast. Take a look at why they think the world needs Airlander…
We could be about to have much quieter flights. Researchers developed a sound-bouncing rubber membrane earlier this year that could lead to significantly more peaceful plane cabins. By adding the rubber membrane to the honeycomb construction of the plane, the researchers think that they could bounce up to 1,000 times more sound waves away from the cabin than is currently possible.
There are concerns about how this could affect fuel costs as it would add weight to the plane, but Yun Jing, one of the acousticians who helped to develop the technology thinks that a compromise could be possible – and beneficial. “Some people say they want to hear the sound of the engine,” he said. “They don’t want the cabin to be too quiet. They want to make sure the plane is still flying.”
Improved inflight entertainment
It’s not just the technology in the build of aircraft that’s changed this year, there’s also been huge improvements to the technology on board with Virgin America launching their new inflight entertainment system.
Partnering with Netflix to bring streaming to the skies, Virgin America have changed the face of inflight entertainment for good. “Netflix and Virgin America are both known for their focus on innovation and for shaking up their respective industries - so we’re thrilled to team up to bring the best in technology and entertainment to the skies,” Abby Lunardini, Virgin America Vice President of Brand Marketing and Communications said.
“These latest generation investments in our WiFi and entertainment platforms allow us to provide the largest breadth of streamed content at 35,000 feet - along with entire seasons of some Netflix favourites via the Red platform.”
And that’s only the tip of the iceberg – 2015 also saw Virgin America team up with Spotify and the New York Times to offer new types of content.