June 13 - Engineers at European aircraft maker Airbus have unveiled the virtual aeroplane cabin of the future - including a transparent fuselage, and moveable seats - which they say will transform the passenger experience. Joanna Partridge reports.
Imagine flying in a plane - and watching the changing sky through the roof, your seat swivelling to follow the light. This is what air travel could look like in 2050 - at least the way Airbus imagines it - says their Executive Vice President of Engineering, Charles Champion. SOUNDBITE: Charles Champion, Airbus Executive Vice President Engineering, saying (English): "So it starts with interaction with the aircraft with the palm of your hand and suddenly the aircraft recognises you and shows you the way to your seat, takes care of your luggage. Also energy harvesting so that the heat of your body can be used in order to light the cabin, for instance." The European aircraft manufacturer says its concept cabin will allow passengers to plug in to the plane's communications system. When in their seat, travellers would be able to change the size and shape of their chair - or press a button to make the fuselage transparent. They also intend to move away from the traditional seating system - of first, business and economy classes - to different seating zones - where passengers can enjoy quiet time in a special pod, or socialise with others at a bar in the centre of the plane. But it's not just about changing the flying experience - the plane maker also says they're looking at making aircraft more environmentally friendly. SOUNDBITE: Charles Champion, Airbus Executive Vice President Engineering, saying (English): "It starts with the materials, to have them fully recyclable, self-cleaning, the whole concept of the aircraft has to be thought of during the life-cycle of the aircraft, so afterwards you can actually dismantle the whole cabin and recycle it into a new aircraft." In a few days' time, the world's leading aircraft makers will be gathering at the Paris Air Show, as they look to sell their latest planes to airlines. But the global aviation industry - which employs some 33 million people worldwide - is always planning many years into the future - . Airbus says it wants to make flying more enjoyable and more sustainable - but it's not clear what passengers will make of this rather high flying concept. Joanna Partridge, Reuters