Are these the shapes of jets to come or just a whimsy on the part of Airbus?

They appear without much detail in the Global Market Forecast released overnight by the world’s largest jet maker.

The forecast, like the experience of flying these days, is as boring as bat shit, and as usual, updates the Airbus 20-year outlook to predict the world will consume even more jets by 2009 than it had previously predicted for the same period to 2008.

And as forecasts go, it is probably right. Airbus and Boeing usually predict the same levels of demand to within about 0.001% of each other, but differ only over unit size, with Airbus, which makes the biggest unit sized jet the A380, always forecasting a higher demand for that size than Boeing, which no longer contests the sector for very large jets or VLJs.

These teasers from Airbus reflect a future when materials technology will allow sleeker, more fluid looking jets that will slip through the air with better aerodynamic efficiency than today, and the wings and bodies of airliners may blend together, liberating the masses crammed into them from the confines of essentially tubular cabin geometries.

Yeah, right. In reality these Airbus visions will probably just turn out to be a larger sardine can than before.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner was originally designed to look like a work of art, too, a super-sleek baby with a shark’s fin tail, even though it was death to aerodynamic efficiency and quickly dropped in favour of the current design made out of plastics that have stubbornly failed to work as planned, and kept that project grounded until no one really knows when although it is supposed to start test flying before year’s end.

The Airbus whimsies, and its market forecast, are displayed in more detail in Plane Talking.

Peter Fray

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