What air travel will look like in 2030


Disney World is ending a long-running show.
Slide 1 of 37: Pilotless air taxis, robot-controlled airports and glass-bottomed airships may seem like the stuff of science fiction, but these futuristic technologies are likely to be everywhere by 2030. Peering into the not-so-distant future, we reveal how you'll be traveling 12 years from now.
Slide 2 of 37: It's a sweltering afternoon in 2030 and you're running late for your flight. Thankfully, you can ditch the rushed and sweaty dash on public transport or sluggish car journey on gridlocked roads, and jump in one of the many climate-controlled pilotless air taxis that are now commonplace in your city.
Slide 3 of 37: Rest-assured, the air taxi will whisk you to the airport in no time. Although regulation could be a stumbling block, right now a slew of start-ups and more established firms are scrambling to launch the world's debut air taxi service.
Slide 4 of 37: Dubai is set to be the first city to boast a fleet of air taxis. Test flights of the German-made Volocopter were performed last September, and US firm Vimana plans to launch autonomous vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) jets by 2020. In the US, Uber's air taxi service is also expected to kick off in 2020.
Slide 5 of 37: In April of last year, German startup Lilium nailed the first successful test flight of its two-seater VTOL jet, which should be operational by 2025. A big selling point, the aircraft will fly from Manhattan to JFK in just five minutes.
Slide 6 of 37: Yet another autonomous VTOL, the Ehang 284 took to the skies in Lianyungang, China last February. That same month, Airbus announced the first test flight of its electric VTOL craft, a sign of things to come.
Slide 7 of 37: A month later, the New Zealand government approved testing of air taxis designed by Kitty Hawk, a firm set up by Google co-founder Larry Page. With so many projects in the pipeline, clearly it's only a matter of time before we see air taxis zipping around the skies.
Slide 8 of 37: Back to that heatwave afternoon in 2030. You've arrived at the airport and, thanks to the speedy air taxi journey, have plenty of time to kill. You can hang out for a while in the virtual reality space to explore your destination, because checking in your suitcase is now a breeze...
Slide 9 of 37: You simply approach one of the many check-in robots – who greets you by your name after remote scanning the biometric chip in your passport – and you'll be relieved of your case. Looking around the airport, there are very few human staff members milling around.
Slide 10 of 37: Automatons are absolutely everywhere, from the friendly check-in robots to the information-giving, food-serving and cleaning androids. According to a recent study by Aira and Vero Solutions, robots will take over our airports by 2030.
Slide 11 of 37: The rise of the airport automatons has already begun. Kansai Airport in Japan has an intelligent check-in robot called KATE; Geneva Airport has launched Léo, a helpful bag drop bot; while hard-working LG automatons clean South Korea's Incheon Airport and assist passengers.
Slide 12 of 37: Elsewhere, New York's La Guardia has a robot that patrols Terminal B. The droid is packed with surveillance cameras and sensors to monitor the terminal, watch out for potential threats and help keep passengers and staff safe.
Slide 13 of 37: Robots will look after airport security checkpoints too. The process is expected to be almost fully automated by 2030 with extensive use of futuristic tech such as artificial intelligence, retinal and fingerprint scanning and facial recognition.
Slide 14 of 37: So you've cleared security and made it to the departure gate. Out on the runway, the tarmac is almost melting in the heat. The effects of climate change are more pronounced now. Fortunately, low- and zero-emission hybrid and all-electric planes are ubiquitous in 2030.
Slide 15 of 37: Limiting or doing away with conventional jet fuels entirely, these aircraft are partly or entirely battery-powered, and are much cheaper to run, which should help bring down air fares, an added bonus.
Slide 16 of 37: Experts believe hybrid and fully battery-powered planes, which offer less range than conventional aircraft, will begin to dominate the short-haul flight sector by 2030, becoming the go-to craft for flights under three hours.
Slide 17 of 37: Right now, more than 100 hybrid and fully electric-powered aircraft projects are being developed around the world. For instance, Airbus, Siemens and Rolls-Royce have teamed up to launch Airbus E-Fan X, a hybrid plane that is set for take-off in 2020.
Slide 18 of 37: Backed by JetBlue and Airbus, Washington's Zunum Aero will deliver its first hybrid commercial aircraft in 2022, while MagniX, also based in Washington State, is working on a roomy all-electric plane it hopes will be airborne as early as next year.
Slide 19 of 37: All-electric planes are also being developed by Californian start-up Wright Electric, which is partnering with European budget carrier easyJet, while the eco-conscious Norwegian government is planning to make all domestic flights electric in the coming decades.
Slide 20 of 37: Back to the future. If you're flying for leisure, you could always book a relaxing air cruise on one of the luxury airships that are all the rage in 2030.
Slide 21 of 37: Unlike the ill-fated airships of the early 20th century, these hyper-efficient hybrid aircraft run on helium and jet fuel rather than notoriously unstable hydrogen. At the current time, the jaw-dropping Airlander 10 is leading the way.
Slide 22 of 37: Developed by British firm Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), the bloated aircraft, dubbed 'the flying bum' for obvious reasons, is the world's longest aircraft at 299 feet (99m), about the size of a football pitch. Unlike conventional aircraft, Airlander 10 can stay airborne for up to five days.
Slide 23 of 37: The hybrid aircraft cruises at speeds of just 91 mph (148km/h) at an altitude of only 1,000 feet (305m), so it's ideal for sightseeing, and passengers will even be able to open the windows for fresh air.
Slide 24 of 37: Incredibly, the first commercial models, which are expected to launch in 2020, will have all-glass floors. Just imagine the views. Carrying up to 19 passengers apiece, the aircraft will feature spacious cabins by Design Q with en suite bathrooms, a hip bar and stunning lounge area.
Slide 25 of 37: HAV expects to build up to 12 new airships a year from 2020, so you don't have long to wait until you can book that fabulous multi-day air cruise over the Great Wall of China, Amazon Rainforest, or Grand Canyon. Expect to pay what you would for a luxury ocean cruise of similar duration.
Slide 26 of 37: Fast forward again to 2030 and you're about to board the plane. You're traveling long-haul, but the flight won't take more than a few hours because you're flying to your destination at supersonic speed.
Slide 27 of 37: Concorde famously ceased operations in 2003, but supersonic and even hypersonic planes are poised to make a big comeback. Several key aerospace companies are developing a new generation of quiet, fuel-efficient, ultra-fast planes.
Slide 28 of 37: Bankrolled by Japan Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, Denver-based start-up Boom is working on a fleet of 55-seat supersonic jets, which are expected to launch in 2025. The planes will fly from New York to London in just three hours and 15 minutes, and ticket prices will be on a par with business class.
Slide 29 of 37: Boston's Spike Aerospace is developing the Spike S-512. The supersonic business jet will seat up to 18 passengers and is scheduled to receive certification by 2023. A 50-seat variant is planned for 2025.
Slide 30 of 37: Likewise, Aerion Supersonic, an aircraft manufacturer based in Nevada, is collaborating with Lockheed Martin and NASA on a supersonic business jet, the Aerion AS2. The 12-seater is slated to enter service in 2026.
Slide 31 of 37: Looking further ahead, Boeing is planning a full-size passenger plane that will fly at hypersonic speeds. The Mach 5 aircraft will make the journey from New York to London in bang on two hours, but isn't expected to go into production until the late 2030s.
Slide 32 of 37: The supersonic jet you're traveling on in 2030 is remarkable enough, but you're most impressed by the windowless cabin. By taking out the windows, designers can make planes faster and more energy efficient.
Slide 33 of 37: Emirates is the trailblazer. In June, the Dubai-headquartered airline replaced windows in the first class cabin of its new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft with digital displays that show images from outside the plane.
Slide 34 of 37: These virtual windows could also project calming landscape scenes and even show movies. Expect other airlines to follow suit, though the lack of real windows may take some getting used to, and could make the flying experience feel rather claustrophobic.
Slide 35 of 37: In addition to lacking proper windows, newer aircraft in 2030 and beyond will likely be accessed by large hotel-style double doors at the center of the plane, significantly speeding up boarding and alighting times.
Slide 36 of 37: Passengers will enjoy relaxing mood lighting, comfier seating and futuristic touches. By way of example, the new Harmony cabin by Airbus will feature a sci-fi-worthy holographic globe that shows the precise position of the aircraft over Earth.
Slide 37 of 37: Robot flight attendants will be a thing by 2030 as will other cutting-edge technologies, from wearable tech that monitors your in-flight health, to virtual reality experiences, super-fast wi-fi and antiviral air con. One thing's for sure, air travel will be transformed spectacularly in the coming years.READ MORE: Discover what holidays will look like in 2050

A glimpse into the future of passenger flight

Pilotless air taxis

Pilotless air taxis

Pilotless air taxis

Pilotless air taxis

Pilotless air taxis

Pilotless air taxis

Automated airports

Automated airports

Automated airports

Automated airports

Automated airports

Automated airports

Hybrid and all-electric planes

Hybrid and all-electric planes

Hybrid and all-electric planes

Hybrid and all-electric planes

Hybrid and all-electric planes

Hybrid and all-electric planes

Luxury airships

Luxury airships

Luxury airships

Luxury airships

Luxury airships

Luxury airships

Supersonic jets

Supersonic jets

Supersonic jets

Supersonic jets

Supersonic jets

Supersonic jets

Windowless cabins and more

Windowless cabins and more

Windowless cabins and more

Windowless cabins and more

Windowless cabins and more

Windowless cabins and more

Robot flight attendants will be a thing by 2030 as will other cutting-edge technologies, from wearable tech that monitors your in-flight health, to virtual reality experiences, super-fast wi-fi and antiviral air con. One thing’s for sure, air travel will be transformed spectacularly in the coming years.

READ MORE: Discover what holidays will look like in 2050

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