Emirates has introduced virtual windows for first class passengers on board its latest aircraft.
Rather than being able to see directly outside, passengers will see images projected in from outside the plane using fibre-optic cameras.
Removing windows from planes makes them lighter and faster and has the potential to reduce fuel costs.
It was predicted that fuel prices will increase by 25 per cent this year at last week’s Annual General Meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), so it’s no surprise that airlines are thinking of creative ways to keep costs down.
Emirates president Sir Tim Clark told the BBC that the images were “so good, it’s better than with the natural eye,” and that the eventual aim was to have planes with no windows at all.
“Imagine now a fuselage as you’re boarding with no windows, but when you get inside, there are windows.
“Now you have one fuselage which has no structural weaknesses because of windows. The aircraft are lighter, the aircraft could fly faster, they’ll burn far less fuel and fly higher,” he said.
Some concerns have been raised about the safety of this proposal. Aviation safety expert, Professor Graham Braithwaite of Cranfield University, said: “Being able to see outside the aircraft in an emergency is important, especially if an emergency evacuation has to take place.
“Flight attendants would need to check outside the aircraft in an emergency, for example for fire, before opening a door and commencing an evacuation – and anything that needed power to do this may not be easy to get certified by an aviation safety regulator.”
The European Aviation Safety Agency, which is responsible for civil aviation safety, said: “We do not see any specific challenge that could not be overcome to ensure a level of safety equivalent to the one of an aircraft fitted with cabin windows.”
The virtual windows can be found in the first class cabin of Emirates’ newest Boeing 777-3000ER aircraft.
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