Looking out a plane window is one of the simpler, if perhaps only, pleasures of flying.
But Emirates envisages a future of windowless planes, instead incorporating viewing screens which are connected to fibre-optic cameras which are pointed away from the aircraft.
The virtual windows are already part of the middle suites on the airline’s Boeing 777 first class cabin, which launched late last year.
Such changes would make a plane lighter and faster, and thus more fuel efficient, according to Emirates president Tim Clarke.
“Imagine now a fuselage as you’re boarding with no windows, but when you get inside, there are windows,” he told the BBC.
“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.” Clarke added the windows have an image quality that “is better than with the natural eye.”
Zach Honig, from travel blog The Points Guy, got himself a glimpse of the virtual windows during takeoff in December last year. It doesn’t look *too* shabby.
Not so enthusiastic is aviation safety expert Graham Braithwaite of Cranfield University, who told the BBC the windows might be a hindrance to crews who need to look outside the aircraft.
“Being able to see outside the aircraft in an emergency is important, especially if an emergency evacuation has to take place,” he told the news outlet.
But the main concern is that passengers might find the virtual windows to be, well, too fake-looking.
“The refresh rate of screen technology may also have some undesirable side effects — will they flicker? What is the lag? How will it affect someone on a long haul flight?” Braithwaite added.
Guess you’ll just have to see it to believe it.