Windowless Cockpit Concept by Airbus

                            WINDOWLESS COCKPITS 

Imagine that you are boarding an aircraft and you find out that there are no cockpit windows, rather an opaque cone of metal sheet covering the entire cockpit window area. You would feel dumbfounded be reluctant to board the aircraft, right? Well, in a few years you may find every Airbus aircraft without cockpit windows. This may look stupid to many of the readers, but Airbus advocates that it may be the future of aircraft design.
In 2014, Airbus registered a patent featuring the idea of “windowless” cockpit which would increase pilots’ field of view.

windowless cockpits
Windowless Cockpit

Looking at the bigger picture, this invention is basically replacing the glazed cockpit window with a large screen displaying a digital image of the outside environment.
The cockpit is the room reserved for pilots comprising of all controls necessary to fly the aircraft. Conventionally, it is located in the front of the fuselage with slanted window panes which allows the pilots to have an unobstructed view of both forward and downward of the aircraft.
For maximum aerodynamic efficient design, the nose of the aircraft should ideally be of lancet shaped (like a knife) but to accommodate the radome and the landing gear, it is modified to give a larger radius of curvature.

Alternative cockpit
Alternative location for a cockpit

This invention solves this problem by shifting the cockpit at another location which allows the engineers to modify the shape of the nose. Since there is no need for the pilot to actually look outside, the entire cockpit can be shifted to another location freeing up space in the front of the fuselage.
This not only gives a better aerodynamic design to the aircraft, but also increases the pilots’ field of view. Airbus also claims that this invention can increase the payload capacity of the aircraft in their patent.

concept of windowless cockpits
Digital screen concept

The digital image would be projected in the form of a hologram or any other advance technology. The image would be generated from the data supplied by on-board video camera located in the front and the rear of the aircraft.
Example : When the aircraft is taxiing on the ramp, the screen would display a 3D image of the airport generated from the data captured from the video camera and the data stored in data banks on ground. If an obstacle is detected in the path of the aircraft (both on ground and in air) it is possible to modify the video image by displaying the obstacle using Augmented Reality with warnings to alert the pilot.
Holographic guidance system
Holographic Guidance System

Using this technology, the flight path to avoid the obstacles or any turbulence or bad weather can be also displayed on the screen. Airbus prefers that the screen used in the cockpit be made of OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) which helps in designing various complex shapes on the screen.

Airbus is yet to make the proof of concept of this invention. Such complex technology takes decades to develop and be trustworthy enough to replace the cockpit windows. It may take more than a decade to see an aircraft with no cockpit windows.

Check patent here

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