The windowless cabin design that could be the future of air travel

(CNN) – Looking out the cabin window and seeing the cities and oceans from above is, for many of us, one of the joys of flying.

But aviation innovators Rosen Aviation believe that this experience could be taken to the next level, making actual aircraft windows obsolete.

The American aviation company presents the design of its aircraft cabin Maverick Project as the next frontier of the in-flight experience. A key part of the package? Virtual windows.

“Project Maverick was born out of an attempt to integrate the technology of tomorrow into the aircraft of tomorrow,” said Lee Clark, senior vice president of strategy at Rosen.

“The technology of tomorrow,” Rosen said, also means touchless controls, holograms, and a sleek, futuristic aesthetic.

Clark tells CNN Travel that while some of these features have become more common in the field in recent years – think smart homes – airplane cabins haven’t really caught up.

“Project Maverick was born out of the fact that the industry as a whole lags somewhat behind the domestic, residential and automotive worlds,” he says.

Rosen, in collaboration with KiPcreating and Sky-Style, wants to change this dynamic with the Maverick project.

But while the visual renderings seem flashy, Clark says the goal isn’t to go high-tech just for the fun of it.

“The bottom line is the passenger experience, it’s not the technology,” says Clark.

“One of the most critical things for Rosen is the seamless integration of technology, it’s almost invisible technology.”

Rosen envisions Project Maverick running in a private jet, but the company also plans to exhibit a commercial version at next year’s Airport Interiors Expo, an annual industry event showcasing innovation in design. cabins.

“It fits perfectly into business, first-class – and I think some of these technologies can even spill over into the coach environment,” says Clark.

Virtual windows

The Maverick project replaces traditional cabin windows with virtual screens.

Courtesy of Rosen Aviation

Rosen’s Project Maverick made waves in the aviation world – shortly after the design was created in 2020, it was nominated for an International Yacht & Aviation Award, and was also on the list of selected judges at this year’s Crystal Cabin Awards.

Unsurprisingly, it was the fake windows that particularly turned heads.

“It seems that virtual skylights and virtual windows are among the hottest topics because they bring this ability to incorporate augmented reality, some artificial intelligence, and they turn that little porthole window that we’ve lived with for decades into something. something more immersive, ”says Clark.

The idea is that a virtual window could represent the world outside the aircraft via an OLED screen covered in detail. If the plane is flying over a mountain range, for example, the screen will flash with information about the landmark.

The result is that windows are less structural concepts and more of a part of In-Flight Entertainment (IFE).

Maverick-Project-Rosen (4)

Project Maverick is designed to fit into a private jet space, but a commercial aircraft offering is expected to arrive soon.

Courtesy of Rosen Aviation

Project Maverick is not the first concept of windowless aircraft. A few years ago, Dubai-based airline Emirates first introduced a design for a “fully enclosed first class private suite“using real-time fiber optic camera technology to create virtual windows.

Rosen recently completed a research project in partnership with the University of Colorado and Textron Aviation, examining people’s response to virtual windows. Clark says he’s not free to reveal the study’s results too much, but the response among subjects has been overwhelmingly positive.

Clark adds that there are other benefits to revolutionizing cabin windows.

“From an engineering perspective, virtual windows provide many benefits, from structural integrity to lightness to aerodynamics.”

But Clark stresses that the primary purpose of Project Maverick window design is to improve travelers’ travel.

Contactless technology

Maverick-Project-Rosen (6)

The design also incorporates contactless technology.

Courtesy of Rosen Aviation

Rosen’s Project Maverick also uses contactless technology – following Covid-19, more attractive than ever.

“This was all developed and created long before the arrival of Covid,” says Clark. “It was just a natural, intuitive way to control things – and it turns out to be touchless and hygienic.”

But while Project Maverick has garnered praise and attention, the fact that the aviation world, as Clark puts it, “lags considerably” behind technology on the ground, could pose a problem.

Complying with regulations stipulated by the United States Federal Aviation Administration and the International Air Transport Association means that aircraft designers cannot easily or quickly remove windows or overturned cabins.

“This not only increases lead times and budgets, but also causes suppliers and manufacturers to operate very cautiously,” says Clark. “It’s really not their fault, but it has less than ideal consequences. “

Clark suggests that “integrated partnerships” might be a way around this potential hurdle.

Yet Clark says Rosen is also working “with a major global airline” on “how we are elevating their IFE offering.”

While the details of this collaboration are still under wraps, some altered aspects of Project Maverick could perhaps become a reality on planes before long.

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