Windowless Hybrid Wing Plane Successfully Tested By NASA And Boeing

Passengers may need to wave goodbye to window seats on the planes of the future. However, although your view may not be as nice, there will be many other perks. NASA and Boeing have teamed up and created a hybrid wing plane. A scale model of the X-48C plane prototype was successfully tested in California.

According to, the windowless plane has been designed to be more fuel-efficient, seat more passengers and potentially bring down the cost of flights. Moreover, with only two engines and nose-shielding vertical fins, the aircraft is said to provide a quieter trip for fliers.

NASA’s goal is for the design to be universally adopted by the military and potentially consumer flights within the next two decades.

Your Kindness When Flying Is Appreciated, Believe Me

flyingWhen we think of flying, thoughts often turn to pricing, legroom and luggage fees among other contemporary issues. Back in the good old days of air travel, it was more about the fun of flying, brand loyalty and what might be served for lunch. But guess what? We have the power to turn back the clock to a happier time in the air with some common courtesy.

On a recent international flight, I happened to be talking to the passenger sitting right behind me in coach before takeoff. Everyone was getting settled in, arranging their cramped space, putting books, iPads, headphones, snacks and other items within easy reach.

When I mentioned that I had work to do and would probably not sleep or recline, that passenger behind me joyously proclaimed, “Oh thank God!” He went on to say how much he appreciated the thought and noted, “That’s just common flight courtesy.” Others chimed in, agreeing with him.

I really did not think much about it at the time. But in reflection, that few inches the seat goes back really does not make all that much difference when I do try to sleep on a flight. It’s not like reclining turns the narrow coach seat into a Lazy Boy with heated massage capability anyway. But not reclining can mean so much to the person behind us that loses the space.We may not be able to bring back in-flight meals on domestic coach flights or bigger seats to go along with cut-rate fares. But looking at the business of flying in a slightly different way can make all the difference in the world.

Business Traveling Etiquette

[Photo- Chris Owen]

Inside United’s First 787 Dreamliner At Boeing HQ

We knew it was coming, but now that we’ve had a chance to step on board United Airlines’ latest jetliner in person, we’ll surely be counting the days until we can ease into one of those airborne recliners as the carrier’s 787 takes to the skies. Just days after getting its first coat of paint (and that unique nose-to-tail swoop), United opened up its Dreamliner for journalists, select customers and a handful of staffers to take a first look at the 787’s interior, which includes 36 flat-bed BusinessFirst seats in a 2-2-2 configuration, 72 Economy Plus seats with up to 36 inches of pitch and 111 Economy seats with a fairly standard 32 inches of pitch.

You could have garnered that from glancing at a seat map. What’s not so clear is just how magnificent this aircraft is to ride, or, in the case of our grounded demo at Boeing’s Everett factory today, how it looks from the ground. This isn’t our first trip down the aisles of a 787, having flown on ANA’s Dreamliner with Engadget in Japan last year. In comparison to the 777, however, where we’ve spent weeks of time in flight, it’s quite exciting to see how the in-flight experience is improving, even when compared to the pleasant ride on the carrier’s previous-generation flagship.

%Gallery-161659%United will be operating the Dreamliner on new and existing routes, and while we don’t know exactly where the 787 will fly first, service is slated begin later this year. The first confirmed route will launch on March 31st between Denver and Tokyo, growing direct service between the Japanese hub and the U.S. to 10 cities (including Honolulu and Guam). Passengers on board those flights will certainly appreciate the oversized dimmable windows and giant overhead bins, along with all-LED lighting, which sadly are limited to basic color configurations, rather than the ANA we’ve seen during boarding on ANA.

The 787 is more than a foot narrower than the 777, but United maintained the same seating configuration as its Continental acquisitions, which you might assume makes the aircraft seem a bit cramped. The higher ceilings and open feel made the difference almost unnoticeable, however, and the Continental-era BusinessFirst seats on board are still far superior to United’s own triple-7 layout, where four center seats mean you could end up paying for a bed yet still have a middle seat. Here, just like on those select triple-7s (mostly used on flights beginning in Houston or Newark), biz seats offer much more privacy, with more personal space and substantial dividers.


In the Y-cabin, seats seemed cushier than what we’ve used on United’s existing fleet, and feature the same in-flight entertainment system installed on some of the carrier’s current aircraft. Like BusinessFirst, these seats also feature larger dimmable windows and overhead bins which reportedly offer 30 percent more capacity than those on United’s 777. Rows 16 and 27 have substantially more legroom than other Economy Plus seats. In fact, there’s so much space between the window-side seats in row 27 that you could plop down a sleeping bag and camp out on the floor if the FAA permitted it.

Surprisingly, the most spacious seats on the plane aren’t in this row or even in the business cabin, but instead are located up a flight of stairs in a hidden second level. Two sets of crew quarters are located at the far forward and far aft positions, behind doors marked “Crew Only.” Through those doors and up a small flight of stairs you’ll find two full-size beds in the front of the Dreamliner and six in the rear. There’s not much room to do much other than sleep, but thick, full-length mattresses will surely enable pilots and flight attendants to make good use of scheduled rest periods.

We felt quite comfy during our visit to United’s 787, even on the main level, and while we couldn’t experience the boosted humidity, increased cabin pressure, noise suppression and computer-assisted smooth performance, it’s clear that the Dreamliner will be very popular among United passengers. There’s a few months to go until you can take a flight of your own, but we have plenty of photos to tide you over for now. Thumb through the galleries for a closer look, then scroll down below for a hands-on video from Engadget.

The Future Of Air Travel Looks Good, By Airbus

future of air travel

The future of air travel can be defined in a number of ways. Right now more legroom, lower fares and a muzzle on barking luggage fees would be nice. But what will air travelers want and need in the future?

Aircraft manufacturers have to consider factors ranging from environmental concerns to building long-term business relationships, pitting face-to-face meetings (increasing demand for air) vs. communication via social media platforms (no air needed). Add in sourcing better, lighter building materials, fuel for new engines, and using cost-efficient construction techniques not invented yet and things can get confusing.

To help make sense of it all Airbus put together an infographic (below) that considers these factors and more as well as an ebook, “The Future By Airbus,” that provides some direction.

Airbus began looking to the next 40-plus years in 2010, seeking out other industry stakeholders and experts to anticipate the global needs of a better-connected and more sustainable world.

So what does the future bring? Well, there’s an app for that too.

Researching the world’s changing population, the Airbus Concept Cabin app shows what the future of flight might look like from the passengers’ perspective. The idea is that aircraft cabins of the future will be customized to the needs of individual passengers.

We see no mention of any concerns about legroom or baggage fees in the future. Now that’s something to look forward to.

[Photo: Airbus]

Search For Amelia Earhart Begins In South Pacific

The search for Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan is onIn the beginning of June we told you about new research that seemed to indicate that famous aviator Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan not only survived a crash in the South Pacific back in 1937, but also made numerous attempts to radio for help. Armed with those findings a search team launched an expedition earlier this week with the aim of exploring the tiny atoll that they believe was the final resting place for the duo.

Earhart and Noonan went missing on July 2, 1937, while attempting to circumnavigate the planet by airplane. When they last made radio contact they were searching for Howland Island where they were planning on refueling for their flight across the Pacific. They never arrived at Howland and what exactly became of them remains a mystery to this day.

Historians and scientists have theorized that Earhart’s Lockheed Electra actually went down on a tiny atoll known as Nikumaroro, where she and Noonan proceeded to send radio messages for several days before the ocean claimed their aircraft. It is that small island, which is part of the nation of Kiribati, that this most recent search party is now en route.

When they arrive the team will use a robotic submersible to search for the missing airplane in the waters just off Nikumaroro and they’ll comb the island itself for more clues to Earhart and Noonan’s ultimate fate. A recent excursion to the atoll discovered an old jar of freckle cream that was consistent with the brand that Earhart used and researchers are hoping to discover similar clues this time out. They feel that if they find definitive evidence that the island was Earhart and Noonan’s last resting place it can help solve one of the most enduring mysteries of the 20th century.

The expedition is expected to last approximately 26 days, with ten of those days dedicated to the search itself. The team departed from Honolulu on Tuesday and should arrive on site some time next week. After that, we’ll all have to wait to see if they discover anything of interest.