The Future of Flight

Planes will change a lot in the next 50 years. This is look at the developments in airplane technology that are likely in the future of aviation.

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These are the technological developments that will allow us to move ourselves and our cargo cheaper, greener, and faster, through the air, going forward. This is the future of flight.

With the first all-electric twin-engine, self-powered plane successfully crossing the English Channel this month, and the ongoing effort of the

Solar Impulse team to become the first completely solar-powered aircraft to fly around the world, the amount of innovation targeting the aviation industry is eye-opening.

Within the next year, unmanned, solar-powered drones like the Silent Falcon will hit the commercial UAV market.

The Joby Aviation S2 electric is a proposed Vertical Takeoff and Landing aircraft that could be five times as efficient as a conventional personal airplane.

Airbus’ two passenger version of the E-Fan will use on-board lithium batteries to power two electric engines.

The Aeroscraft ML868 could lead a comeback of giant airships. The 770 foot-long behemoth can carry 200 tons with cargo bays larger than any current air, truck or rail transport vehicle.

Aerion’s AS2 is the first supersonic commercial jet since the Concorde. It will fly at a speed of Mach 1.6. Laminar flow technology and better wing design will reduce drag by 20%.

By the middle of the 2020’s we’ll likely see solar powered drones delivering broadband to millions for a fraction of the cost of traditional satellites.

Building on the concept of drones and autonomous flying technology, fully-automated planes will take to the skies to revolutionize not just the air cargo delivery industry, but possibly personal air travel as well, much like what’s happening today with driverless cars.

By 2030, plant-based fuels should account for 30% or more of an airlines’ fuel consumption.

Airbus’ hybrid commercial airliner will emit barely any emissions or noise on takeoff and landing thanks to lithium-air batteries.

Boeing and NASA could team to launch a hybrid commercial airliner called SUGAR for Subsonic Ultra-Green, Aircraft Research, which uses two-thirds less fuel than an equivalent sized aircraft from 2015.

Traveling 10% slower, but using 70% less fuel than today’s Boeing 737, the D8 Series Double Bubble’s fuselage will provide 20% of its lift.

By 2040, we could see the world’s first hydrogen powered commercial flight. The hydrogen would be cryogenically frozen.

EAD’s Zero Emission High Supersonic Transport passenger jet, running on biofuel, could cut the more than 6,000 mile flight from Paris to Tokyo to just 2:30 minutes.

Like a fighter jet on an aircraft carrier, commercial planes could be catapulted into the air, reducing the length of runways by one-third.

As if they were a flock of migrating birds, more intelligent systems could allow aircraft on the same routes to self-organize into a flying patter, reducing wind drag and saving fuel.

Six hydrogen engines, a rear engine that doubles as a wind turbine, and solar panels on its roof and wings will propel the zero-emission Progress Eagle, a triple-decker, 800-passenger airplane concept that we could see in production by 2070.

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