It’s got “self-healing wings,” “virtual reality windows,” room for up to 755 passengers and may just offer a glimpse into the future of air travel. Introducing the AWWA “Sky Whale,” a concept airplane from Spanish designer and aviation enthusiast Oscar Viñals that uses technological innovation to make air travel more efficient and eco-friendly.
Viñals claims his flying behemoth could, using a mix of existing and anticipated technology, reduce aircraft noise, drag, weight, fuel consumption and emissions. “The AWWA-VA could be equipped with new advanced technologies from alloys, ceramic or fiber composites, carbon nanotube and fiber optic cabling to self-healing skin, hybrid electric engines, active wings, double fuselages and virtual reality windows with adaptable opacity,” Viñals explains in his proposal.
The lightweight airplane would have a wingspan of 88 meters (289 feet), compared to 80 meters (262 feet) on an Airbus A380, the largest passenger aircraft on the market.
A hybrid turbo-electric propulsion system would power the so-called “active wings,” making them more efficient than the ones in use today. A double fuselage and micro solar cells on the wings, meanwhile, would allow Sky Whale to go longer without refueling.
Yet, the innovations do not stop there: Four engines capable of rotating up to 45 degrees would give the aircraft a serious boost during takeoff, making it available for use at just about any airport. Viñals proposes enhanced safety features, too, like one that would enable Sky Whale’s wings and adjacent architecture to “auto-break up to reduce the damages on the passengers” in the event of a crash.
Commuters on the Sky Whale would be seated across three classes, each of which would have its own level. Those on the upper level would be treated to “sky views and all conceivable luxuries for a trip,” while passengers in “tourist class” (the equivalent of economy) would have “virtual reality windows” to make up for a lack of real ones.
It’s important to note that Viñals’ lavish proposal is just that, a proposal, and there are several giant leaps in technology necessary to make many of his ideas a reality. Yet, aviation enthusiasts say there’s no need to scoff at things that are currently deemed impossible.
“Air travel is all about overcoming daunting challenges,” Alyssa Danigelis of Discovery News notes. “Given our past, it’s worth listening to what this whale is saying about the future.”
Mark Johanson is the travel editor at the International Business Times. He has traveled to and written about more than 30 nations and territories on every continent except...