Travelers want to fly more, but greener

Fri Jul 6, 2012 1:40pm EDT
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By Peter Myers

LONDON (Reuters) - Over 60 percent of people worldwide want to fly more by 2050, but almost all - 96 percent - believe aircraft need to be more environmentally efficient, according to a study from aircraft-maker Airbus.

With findings drawn from a 10,000-strong survey, the planemaker also consulted with 1.75 million people in 192 countries over a two-year period to better understand the public perception of air travel's future.

Released three days before the Farnborough International Airshow, the study indicates that quieter aircraft are important (backed by 66 percent of respondents), while almost 40 percent felt the air-travel experience is increasingly stressful.

Respondents' gripes included queues at passport control; slow check-in and baggage collection; sitting on the tarmac; and circling in holding patterns around airports.

"Capacity constraints are a sign of things to come unless the industry can work together to cut delays, and with aviation set to double in the next 15 years, that's what we're looking at," Airbus executive vice president, engineering Charles Champion said in a press statement.

Airbus, part of European aerospace group EADS, carried out the research alongside development of a "Concept Plane" which illustrates what air transport could look like as early as 2030, though more likely by 2050.

The graceful, spaceship-like prototype brandishes long, slim wings; semi-embedded engines; a U-shaped tail and light-weight fuselage. The result, Airbus says, will be lower fuel burn and a significant cut in emissions.

Airbus has also rethought cabin configuration, replacing first, business and economy classes with personalized zones. Passengers would be able to stargaze through a transparent wall membrane from "morphing" seats that harvest body heat for power.   Continued...

A passenger plane flies over a barbed wire fence as it approaches Sydney airport February 23, 2010. AREUTERS/Tim Wimborne