The continuing future of Flying? You Can See It Now

In a computer lab in Winston-Salem, N.C., interior systems designers at Rockwell Collins make use of virtual reality to test the airline cabins they create, inviting clients to sit in chairs, open overhead bins and tug rolling suitcases down the aisle. This enables them to discover and fix mistakes before the design is finalized.

It would take “crazy-man cash” to actually create a prototype and inspect it in this manner, said David Balfour, a visualization specialist with the company. Virtual reality allows airlines to “put a virtual-reality headset on and stand up and view an entire cabin.”

In the virtual-reality environment, to err is actually a good thing, said Glenn Johnson, director of the design studio at Rockwell Collins.

Designs “fail quicker and cheaper,” he said, this means improvements will come faster.

This capability to create large and complex environments also creates virtual reality promising for training airfield staff members who work in hazardous environments, servicing airliners in all sorts of weather and light conditions.

With RampVR, an application produced by the I.A.T.A., students put on goggles and identify challenges as they virtually inspect an airplane and the ramp spot around it. Experiential training sticks in the mind, relating to Frederic Leger, airport passenger cargo and secureness merchandise director for the association.

“You are living working out because you are mixed up in training,” Mr. Leger said. “It’s like a video game where you possess a score towards the end, hence it goes to the emotional part of your brain.”

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Due to the fact airline pilots do recurrent training in a simulator regularly, bringing a simulated setting to other areas of the industry is not a fresh concept. It is only recently, on the other hand, that the improved top quality and lower cost of virtual reality have made its widespread make use of practical.

With the showy benefits of virtual reality, some airlines want to turn the “wow” into income. At a pop-up cafe in London earlier this month, Air flow Canada invited visitors to see a Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight in virtual reality. The German airline Lufthansa ready a 360 video tutorial of the interior of its long-haul aircraft, and its employees presented viewing goggles to ticketed passengers waiting around at boarding gates in Newark and Frankfurt this past year. After viewing the present, Lufthansa, asked if they wanted to buy an upgrade to reduced economy seat.

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“How can you communicate a travel product? That is the problem in the industry,” said Torsten Wingenter, Lufthansa’s senior director of digital innovations. Virtual reality gave the company the “first chance to show the product within an emotional way.”

After the test, the emotion at the airline can be described as happy. Numerous economy passengers paid $299 considerably more to fly in prime economy after viewing the cabin in virtual reality. Mr. Wingenter wouldn’t normally say how many, but that it had been “a significant number.”

Biometric Boarding

In December, Lufthansa passengers flying away of Los Angeles can use what JetBlue customers in Boston already are using – boarding gates that let passengers onto the airplane without paper ticket or digital boarding pass, just a face that matches their passport photo.

On two JetBlue routes, from Boston to Aruba and the Dominican Republic, passengers stand before a camera that takes their picture and compares it to the traveler’s image in the passport data source of Customs and Border Safety.

“We’re seeing about three just a few seconds for the photograph to be studied, transmitted and a great response back again,” said Joanna Geraghty, JetBlue’s executive vice president of buyer experience.

Facial recognition will be expanded. Ms. Geraghty said this was the starting of a fresh era for travelers.

“You can go into an airport and you won’t need to show a boarding card, you won’t need to grab a passport,” she said. “You will have no carrier tag, no lines, you almost walk correct onto an aircraft. That’s the world I anticipate.”

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Intelligent Machines

Ms. Geraghty is like many aviation technology professionals who look at advancements in other industries and believe about how precisely they could improve air travel.

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In a workshop in Geneva, SITA has countless robots that happen to be industry conferences all over the world to commence conversations about how precisely autonomous vehicles could be used in aviation.

One robot, named Kate, is a self-directed check-in kiosk that techniques to areas of congestion seeing as needed. The different robot, Leo, takes luggage from passengers and deposits them where they have to be to get routed to the proper destination.

Whether Kate or Leo end up at your local airport is usually not the point, said Mr. Peters, SITA’s technology chief.

“The robots are also demonstrators to get people talking about what is the continuing future of autonomous vehicles in the airport,” Mr. Peters said. But for all that technology has to offer, one of the main tests is how very well the next new gadget plays with people.

“Some things can be prototyped plus some things can’t,” he said. “Some things you ‘must’ have a physical conversation with to determine what works.”

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