'Air trains' could speed up travel: futurists

"Shall we take the eight o'clock air train to Paris?" It may sound strange to say now, but such jargon is likely to become commonplace someday - if aviation futurists are right in their predictions.

This and other fantastic ideas are being conceived by experts at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) tasked with imagining the future of air travel.

In the corridors of the UN agency's Montreal headquarters, they chat openly about air trains - a term coined to describe jetliners flying in formation, like fighter jets, from departure to destination.

For air traffic controllers it would mean having to follow a single object or cluster of jetliners in the sky, reducing their workload.

Another proposal dubbed "tunneling" would require autopilots to guide aircraft through virtual tunnels in the sky, reducing the need for interaction between flight crew and air traffic controllers.

Such visions of the future "are not going to become reality tomorrow, but probably in the not-too-distant future," Michel Wachenheim, France's representative at ICAO, told AFP.

In aviation, solutions to congestion problems envisioned for 10 or 20 years down the line must be considered now.

With airline traffic growing at rates of four to five percent annually, the number of airline passengers will soon double. So it is crucial to figure out how to eliminate bottlenecks at airports, in air traffic control and on international routes.

Both Europe and the United States have embarked on air traffic control infrastructure modernization programs called SESAR and NextGen, respectively. Their aim is to roll out new generations of air traffic management systems starting as early as next year.

ICAO is tasked with harmonizing the two systems and keeping in mind Asia, which is seeing double-digit growth in air traffic.

Its proposals are to be unveiled next year following a key air navigation symposium in Montreal this September.

Airports have already started adding more runways to meet the increasing demand for flights, and some air traffic zones have been split into smaller segments to ease the burden on air traffic controllers, allowing them to monitor a maximum of 15 jetliners simultaneously.

But these solutions have their limits: many crowded European airports cannot extend their runways because of a lack of available land, and creating too many tiny air traffic control zones that can be traversed in mere minutes would make them unmanageable.

The standard idea is to manage the trajectory of each aircraft in four dimensions - including time - throughout its flight for optimization.

In addition to boosting capacity, the industry would also realize economic and environmental benefits such as shorter travel time and less carbon emissions.

"For an airport, the worst is to have an airplane circling without being able to land," said Farid Zizi, who works with Wachenheim.

European lawmakers have already taken an important first step in one area.

France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland last year signed the FABEC cooperation agreement on air traffic control creating "functional blocs" across the countries.

Progress must still be made, however, in areas such as meteorological forecasting and shortening the minimum braking distances of airplanes to reduce their total time spent on runways.

via/amc/mlm/kmg

 

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    Day In a Page

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test