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Clearly I’m not as clever or as business-savvy as Tim Clark (the president of Emirates) or I would be a multimillionaire and flying around the world without wondering if I’m crediting my trips to the right loyalty program or if I’m using my miles wisely…..but I still know a bad idea when I hear one.
Emirates’ newest First Class cabin (fitted to just a few of the airline’s 777 aircraft) offers just 6 fully enclosed suites and two of those suites are in the center of the cabin and away from the windows.
Emirates doesn’t want any of its highest paying passengers to miss out on the views so, to make sure that everyone can see what’s going on outside, it has installed something pretty amazing – virtual windows.
The virtual windows use cameras pointing out of the aircraft to project the external view on to a screen inside the suite where a window would be (if the suite was on one side of the aircraft and not in the center).
Fantastic! What a very cool way to use technology….but Emirates now wants to go a step further.
Tim Clark reckons that the images that Emirates projects on to the virtual windows are “so good [they’re] better than the natural eye” and he thinks it would be a good idea to give everyone virtual windows. Yes, everyone.
Tim Clark wants to fly an aircraft that has no real windows at all.
When talking with the BBC this is what the Emirates president had to say:
“Imagine now a fuselage as you’re boarding with no windows, but when you get inside, there are windows.”
“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.”
What a truly horrendous idea!
I can think of a whole host of reason why Emirates shouldn’t do this…here a just a few:
- Our lives are already dominated by screens everywhere so do we really want even more forced upon us on long-haul flights?
- What happens with screens that don’t work or, more importantly, what happens when screens only partly work so they’re not really much use for seeing outside but they’re flickering for the entire 10 hour flight?
- Just how much of the outside will the cameras cover? Right now I can look out of an aircraft window and see in quite a few directions, will the cameras be able to replicate this? Doubtful.
- How about the safety aspect? If passengers have to evacuate an aircraft they’re going to want to be able to see what’s outside before they jump out and, if the aircraft has had an emergency due to an electronics issue, isn’t there a good chance the virtual windows won’t be working?
- Ultimately, regardless of what Tim Clark may say or think, there isn’t a screen out there that looks as natural to us as what we see with our own eyes and I don’t think passengers are going to want to sit in, what will effectively be, a movie theatre environment for hour upon hour upon hour.
“Hair-brained” is the best phrase I can think of to categorise this idea.
Yes, I’m sure there will be weight savings (and therefore fuel savings) if windows are replaced with composite…but does everything always have to be about efficiency? Can’t we just focus on real passenger comfort for a while rather than continually focusing on where the airlines can save even more money?