Say goodbye to turbulence, mechanical delays, and airport security lines, and hello to a slew of crazy innovations: according to insiders at Boeing, air travel is about to get a whole lot more exciting.
A hundred years ago, planes were limited to super-short flights (think less than a minute, in the case of the Wright Brothers) and military seaplanes. That’s when Boeing first entered the picture. So who is to say what air travel will look like in another century?
If anyone is qualified to take a gander, it’s Brian Tillotson and Kevin Bowcutt, two of Boeing’s Senior Technical Fellows who specialize in space travel and hypersonics, respectively. They’re the ones on the front lines of aerospace innovation—engineers who think about crazy concepts like space travel and vertical liftoff, as well as practical innovations like airplanes that can diagnose their own mechanical failures or automatically avoid turbulence. Oh, and then there’s the whacky (but surprisingly practical) idea about making airplanes fully transparent—and not just so that you get a (scary) good view.
So on the eve of the company’s centennial, they talked to Travel + Leisure about the future of flight—in all its potential permutations. Also on the agenda were innovations that will change the way we travel to and through the airport—enhancements to security, the ways that smart home technology can enhance the safety and efficiency of airport terminals, and how our very day-to-day commutes might take to the skies.
It all sounds like something pulled out of the Jetsons, but some of these innovations are truly in the works—Tillotson and Bowcutt estimate that at least one of the following projects will actually come to fruition on a commercial scale by the year 2035. Others are further off in the horizon, but all are grounded in reality, whether they stem from existing technology or are in some early stage of development. Even if they don’t all pan out as expected, one thing is for sure: travelling in the year 2116 will be faster, greener, and a whole lot more exciting.