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northstar80
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Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Wed Apr 22, 2015 6:58 am

Hello dear A.net friends,

I am working on some ideas and want to better understand where technology can take us in the coming years in airline sector.

I need some insight and ideas on what the next big innovation could be to have airlines either reach more passengers, sell more tickets, or reduce operational costs. In other words, what would an airline want to have in order to significantly change the game in the sector?

Thanks,
 
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nighthawk
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Wed Apr 22, 2015 8:44 am

If I knew what the next big innovation in air travel was, then I wouldn't be sharing it on A.net for someone else to profit from  

Personally I can't think of any major new changes, just a continuation of current trends. Greater adoption of mobile apps for booking/ticketing, removal of IFE in favour of wifi streaming to personal devices, and greater rollout of onboard wifi.

The only major change may be in low cost long-haul, with more airlines looking to do what Norweigan is currently doing. I'd expect Easyjet and Ryanair to be looking to set up some kind of long-haul division at some point in the near future.
 
cloudboy
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Wed Apr 22, 2015 1:03 pm

The airline industry is unfortunately not driven by profit or technology. It is driven by stock values and bond ratings. The upside of this is that you cannot accurately predict the impact of the newest technology, because it depends so much on opinion.

A new technology that can save the airlines millions could very well have little impact if the investors are not convinced of the technology. Likewise a new idea, even if int eh end it ends up saving nothing and driving away customers, could be the next big thing simply because all the investors fall for the idea.

So really the next bi innovation is not going to be a technical thing, but rather a good marketing guy, who is able to sell his concept to the investors.
"Six becoming three doesn't create more Americans that want to fly." -Adam Pilarski
 
BD338
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Wed Apr 22, 2015 1:40 pm

Quoting cloudboy (Reply 2):
The airline industry is unfortunately not driven by profit or technology. It is driven by stock values

It is absolutely driven by profit, that is what helps drive the stock price. It is driven by technology if that helps the bottom line, be that back of house or flight technologies to reduce cost and increase profit or a user technology which can generate revenue (and profit) all of which makes Wall St very very happy. Apparently these days, that is all that matters (to many companies not just airlines) I sometimes get the impression that customers are an inconvenience on the way to making money  

As to the next big thing, who knows...standing room on planes? large scale use of bio fuels? carbon composite ultra lightweight seats? 100% revenue driven loyalty programs? No first class upgrades on US Domestic flights unless ultra high FF? NextGen ATC finally fully implemented with full use of continuous descent approaches at all airports? Low cost longhaul finally succeeding, though I think a 5+ year horizon on that one as we are in the early days of that sector. Someone finally figures out how to solve the gate lice? (apart from Southwest that is)

The possibility of fully automated self service integrated check in, baggage, boarding is very very close, and already available in parts or places and is quite likely I think to be rolled out in a large scale over the next 2-5 years.

OR....return to 32" legroom in coach, meal service and no baggage fees (just kidding   )
 
lancelot07
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Wed Apr 22, 2015 1:54 pm

Quoting BD338 (Reply 3):
OR....return to 32" legroom in coach, meal service and no baggage fees (just kidding   )

and return to supersonic flight !
 
masseybrown
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Wed Apr 22, 2015 3:53 pm

The next game-changer (in the real sense of the word) has to be related to propulsion and energy efficiency, but it doesn't seem to be about to happen tomorrow. The future of propulsion will likely involve electric engines.

We will need a big improvement in battery and probably solar energy-capture efficiencies first. 2030 for prototyping?
 
cloudboy
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Wed Apr 22, 2015 5:30 pm

It may very well not be technological so much as operational.

As the big three US airlines consolidate, they are giving room for the next tier - B6, WN, AS, to move up. this in turn is opening up some new room at the bottom. There is opportunity for either a true bus-style operator who doesnt sell their own tickets but only contracts out to the likes of Expedia, Travelocuity, Kayak, hotwire, etc. I also see opportunity for something based on the uber model.
"Six becoming three doesn't create more Americans that want to fly." -Adam Pilarski
 
Burkhard
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Wed Apr 22, 2015 5:40 pm

The most important thing to come is a significant reduction of airliners noise - otherwise the acceptance of air traffic by the voting majority will disappear, and curfews and caps on daily movements will dominate the discussion.
 
LH707330
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Wed Apr 22, 2015 6:03 pm

I think the biggest innovation will be something mundane that will seem obvious in retrospect. Looking at the last 10 years, the biggest fuel-saving innovation was the slimline seat, not something insanely complicated.
 
laddb
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Wed Apr 22, 2015 6:58 pm

Quoting cloudboy (Reply 6):
The future of propulsion will likely involve electric engines.

I don't see battery technology ever giving the same energy density as jet fuel. Not to mention it is the expansion of the combustable that gives the thrust. I don't see how an electric engine can produce thrust except with a prop.

Maybe not the next big advance, but a future advance will be autonomous planes requiring no pilots.
 
ODwyerPW
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Wed Apr 22, 2015 7:16 pm

We will begin to see cameras in the cockpits, in the baggage holds and looking down the cabin aisles, front to back.
It will be all be recorded to hi-def video the entire time the plane is in use.
Society is moving in a constant surveillance direction.
Unions will fight it, but ultimately insurance companies and government will prevail.

If 10 years ago we were watching Dennis Rodman's life 24x7, it's only a matter of time before the business of flight is captured the same way.
learning never stops.
 
Osubuckeyes
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Wed Apr 22, 2015 7:32 pm

I think from a consumer perspective it will probably be something that impacts the bottom line on the other end.

I think in 5 years we will see a significant reduction in gate agents and more automated boarding especially at small outstations. I think the alternative is to have FAs trained to perform gate agent duties.

I'm still surprised that the legacies haven't started charging in some way for carry ons. I think soon baggage will be sold directly proportional to weight (especially carry ons).

I think you'll see a new longhaul Y seat that provides a great improvement in comfort while allowing for increases in density.

I think fragmentation of product and ease of use are the future for the big 3, which may allow new simpler models a la B6, and WN to emerge in sort of a nuevo fashion.

What I am afraid of is that the airlines have returned to a mode of conformity especially in the US where the US3 refuse to differentiate themselves much from each other. DL does something you can count on UA following suit, and AA will follow a bit behind as they watch results. The current state of the industry doesn't indicate to me that there is much incentive for innovation as more motivated by matching competitors and not differentiation.

Quoting cloudboy (Reply 6):
There is opportunity for either a true bus-style operator who doesnt sell their own tickets but only contracts out to the likes of Expedia, Travelocuity, Kayak, hotwire, etc.

I would be surprised at this, because just as anything airlines are selling a brand.

Quoting cloudboy (Reply 6):
I also see opportunity for something based on the uber model.

I thought there was something similar to this already, but basically private jets on demand. Though I heard availability is tough.
 
Osubuckeyes
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Wed Apr 22, 2015 7:35 pm

Forgot to add that I think we will see automated jetways at some point in the next 5-7 years as well.
 
nomorerjs
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Wed Apr 22, 2015 9:48 pm

Next big innovation according to a-netters: Moving profitable international flights from BOS, JFK, DFW, IAH, ORD, LAX, SFO, and MIA (such as LHR, FRA, NRT, and GRU) to other cities to get the subsidy (IE CVG, RDU, BNA, MEM, etc.).
 
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northwestEWR
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Wed Apr 22, 2015 10:09 pm

It's going to have to be a leap in engine efficiency. That isn't going to be electric either. I think Pratt is on the right track with the GTF, I'm excited to see what the next generation of that engine will look like!

Quoting osubuckeyes (Reply 12):
Forgot to add that I think we will see automated jetways at some point in the next 5-7 years as well.

Why spend a fortune developing and testing a system that an $8/hour employee spends 60 seconds per turn doing?
Northwest Airlines - Now You're Flying Smart
 
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TWA772LR
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Wed Apr 22, 2015 10:23 pm

I think the next leap in commercial aviation is a hybrid LCC/full service style airline. One with full biz/F and LCC Y for both long and short haul, with a Y+ on long haul which is slightly better than the standard long haul normal Y.
When wasn't America great?


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Osubuckeyes
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Wed Apr 22, 2015 10:54 pm

Quoting northwestEWR (Reply 14):
Why spend a fortune developing and testing a system that an $8/hour employee spends 60 seconds per turn doing?

Deter risk of damaging aircraft. I'm sure we have all waited 10-15 minutes before waiting for agents to hookup the jetway, which means the pilots and crew are still on the clock. It would eliminate dead time and free up 3-5 minutes per flight for gate agents. My argument would be that it would go along with automated boarding and eliminate the need for gate agents.
 
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christao17
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Thu Apr 23, 2015 1:40 am

I would suspect that onboard service will continue to be more "a la carte" with greater choices in food, comfort, amenities, etc. all bought in advance and paid for - of course! It will move to the point where you are designing and customizing your own travel experience.
More than a dozen years flying in and around Asia...
 
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TWA772LR
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Thu Apr 23, 2015 2:00 am

Quoting osubuckeyes (Reply 16):
My argument would be that it would go along with automated boarding and eliminate the need for gate agents.

Which as a gate agent myself, and also my mother, is not a great idea. Its one of the largest work groups of an airline and the unions would fight tooth and nail for that not to happen.
When wasn't America great?


The thoughts and opinions shared under this username are mine and are not influenced by my employer.
 
JHwk
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Thu Apr 23, 2015 2:22 am

I'm hoping for advances on the top and bottom rather than in the middle-- viable air taxi services (surf air for the masses) for daily/weekly trips with minimal planning, and super-jumbo flights between major city centers.

It is hard for me to imagine where the mid-range will really innovate; the gap between a 737/320 and 787/350 is difficult to address with a middle-of-market solution economically.

But, in 20 years, I see 50-seat planes with only one crew member on the ground and in the air serving many roles.
 
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northwestEWR
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Thu Apr 23, 2015 2:25 am

Quoting TWA772LR (Reply 18):

Quoting osubuckeyes (Reply 16):
My argument would be that it would go along with automated boarding and eliminate the need for gate agents.

Which as a gate agent myself, and also my mother, is not a great idea. Its one of the largest work groups of an airline and the unions would fight tooth and nail for that not to happen.

Most passengers don't like the level of automation already in place. Slow and clunky kiosks, ridiculously helpless phone support, etc. There's a lot to be said for a helpful and kind customer service agent; especially in IRROPS.
Northwest Airlines - Now You're Flying Smart
 
Yakflyer
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Thu Apr 23, 2015 2:30 am

Quoting BD338 (Reply 3):
OR....return to 32" legroom in coach, meal service and no baggage fees (just kidding   )

Why do you say this is a joke?

I think the biggest issue for all those who do not want to squeeze into a ULC seat is simple comfort. I would trade all IFE for an inch or two of extra room for my knees and enough space to read a newspaper if the person in front of me decides to recline. I'm not too worried about meals except to say I'm happy to pay for a decent sandwich or wrap. Why do people want priority boarding? Because they want to be sure to have a place to put their bag in an overhead. If first bag fees went away maybe people could pack a little larger bag, not be worried about having overhead room and just get on at a leisurely pace. In other words if I were king I'd make the whole experience just a little more civilized.
 
flyDTW1992
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Thu Apr 23, 2015 2:45 am

Quoting northwestEWR (Reply 14):
Why spend a fortune developing and testing a system that an $8/hour employee spends 60 seconds per turn doing?

I would tend to agree. Not sure that's really where automation should be going. Would be tough to implement on a large scale, too.
Now you're flying smart
 
phillyramp270
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Thu Apr 23, 2015 2:51 am

Single Engine jets????
Barack Obama is not a foreign born, brown skinned, anti-war socialist who gives away healthcare. You're thinking of Jesu
 
afcjets
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Thu Apr 23, 2015 3:09 am

I would not be surprised to see at least sub-fleets with expanded first class sections, once airlines almost completely eliminate the free upgrades and discover people will actually pay for it. Think of airlines like crack dealers, it is free the first time, only the first time was the last 15 years. So many people are obsessed with first class even on short flights because of how it makes them feel they go all out of their way to try and score a free upgrade, paying more to stay loyal to one airline just for the slim chance of getting one. Take that away and price it intelligently and profitably, not to mention keep making coach as miserable as you possibly can with slim line seats, reduced leg room, ten across on a 777, etc., and people will pay for it. You have already seen the proliferation of things like Surf Air there is clearly a market for a better flying experience today and besides the middle class is shrinking. Back when flying was more for the wealthy, it was not uncommon for 707s to have something like ten rows of first class anyways I believe, so this would be nothing new. And carriers like EA and others tried this in the past at attempts to raise cash, but they were giving it away at coach fares, just higher yielding ones. Going even further back in time, airline cabins were 100% First Class and coach did not come until decades later.
 
flyDTW1992
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Thu Apr 23, 2015 3:15 am

Quoting afcjets (Reply 24):
I would not be surprised to see at least sub-fleets with expanded first class sections, once airlines almost completely eliminate the free upgrades and discover people will actually pay for it. Think of airlines like crack dealers, it is free the first time, only the first time was the last 15 years. So many people are obsessed with first class even on short flights because of how it makes them feel they go all out of their way to try and score a free upgrade, paying more to stay loyal to one airline just for the slim chance of getting one. Take that away and price it intelligently and profitably, not to mention keep making coach as miserable as you possibly can with slim line seats, reduced leg room, ten across on a 777, etc., and people will pay for it. You have already seen the proliferation of things like Surf Air there is clearly a market for a better flying experience today and besides the middle class is shrinking. Back when flying was more for the wealthy, it was not uncommon for 707s to have something like ten rows of first class anyways I believe, so this would be nothing new. And carriers like EA and others tried this in the past at attempts to raise cash, but they were giving it away at coach fares, just higher yielding ones. Going even further back in time, airline cabins were 100% First Class and coach did not come until decades later.

Already seeing a little bit of that. Prime example being AA's transcon A321s. 102 seats on a plane that size is very reminiscent of the old 707s, etc.
Now you're flying smart
 
MKIAZ
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Thu Apr 23, 2015 4:31 am

Just an idea I had awhile ago. What if you had planes without any landing gear. They would still have struts, although the design could be simplified greatly. So the plane comes in to land, as it approaches the runway, 3 computer controlled, electric robots accelerate out and position themselves under the plane. The struts lock into the robots who then decelerate the plane and take it to the gate (all automated). When it's time to go they take it back out to the runway and accelerate it to takeoff speed and unlock. Obviously any issues on locking/unlocking and the plane would go around or do an aborted takeoff. Also, obviously, this is a LOOOOOOOOONG ways out and would need to prove to be basically 100% reliable first, which is very hard to do.

Quite a few benefits. Big weight savings on the plane, lots of fuel savings on taxing/takeoff/landing, no need for controllers for planes on the ground, less delays on the ground, much better takeoff performance (robots + engines accelerating). No more runway incursions.
 
flyDTW1992
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Thu Apr 23, 2015 4:41 am

Quoting MKIAZ (Reply 26):
Just an idea I had awhile ago. What if you had planes without any landing gear. They would still have struts, although the design could be simplified greatly. So the plane comes in to land, as it approaches the runway, 3 computer controlled, electric robots accelerate out and position themselves under the plane. The struts lock into the robots who then decelerate the plane and take it to the gate (all automated). When it's time to go they take it back out to the runway and accelerate it to takeoff speed and unlock. Obviously any issues on locking/unlocking and the plane would go around or do an aborted takeoff. Also, obviously, this is a LOOOOOOOOONG ways out and would need to prove to be basically 100% reliable first, which is very hard to do.

Quite a few benefits. Big weight savings on the plane, lots of fuel savings on taxing/takeoff/landing, no need for controllers for planes on the ground, less delays on the ground, much better takeoff performance (robots + engines accelerating). No more runway incursions.

Still having struts would leave a lot of the weight savings behind. A variation I could more easily see becoming a reality in the future is automated electric motors on the nose gear. The motors themselves are already being tested and have been proposed, but making them automated and in turn automating ground traffic would be an interesting addition to the technology, somewhere in the long term.
Now you're flying smart
 
frmrCapCadet
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Thu Apr 23, 2015 4:51 am

res battery power, Airbus has done some work on this, and I think Boeing has too. Essentially a light weight battery provides some of the energy to get up to cruising altitude, and recharges on descent. Engines can be less powerful, hence weighing less, less fuel to carry. The story on this I saw anticipated results toward the middle of the century, an AM date as in After Me.
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Kashmon
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Thu Apr 23, 2015 6:12 am

Quoting TWA772LR (Reply 15):

so Air New Zealand....
 
masseybrown
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Thu Apr 23, 2015 6:46 am

Quoting laddb (Reply 9):
I don't see battery technology ever giving the same energy density as jet fuel. Not to mention it is the expansion of the combustable that gives the thrust. I don't see how an electric engine can produce thrust except with a prop.

Many technologies are driving battery development; and some forecasts for improvement are more optimistic than others. Here's a thoughtful NATO/OTAN paper that discusses some options.

http://www.mh-aerotools.de/company/paper_14/MP-AVT-209-09.pdf

There are other studies that are looking at onboard battery recharging using various power sources including turbines. The potential weight saving of electric propulsion is a tantalizing feature of the idea. The energy density of jet fuel may not be equaled, but other tradeoffs (weight and non-pollution, for two) make the idea worth pursuing.
 
parapente
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Thu Apr 23, 2015 7:31 am

Personally I like the developments of electric motors on the (front) wheels.So that aircraft can taxi to take off and to the gates.This will save alot of fuel and cut down noise polution.
5.5 degree landing slope might well be another.Will cut down noise around airports alot.
 
olle
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Thu Apr 23, 2015 11:22 am

I saw an article about refuel airplanes midair in order to get down wight at takeoff.
 
crownvic
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Thu Apr 23, 2015 12:27 pm

As long as all the fees are now the norm, why not charge a fee for a successful takeoff and then should there be a successful landing charge another fee...the technology is there for sure! Oh and absolutely no break for multiple charges for a 1 or 2 stop flight too!!
 
phillyramp270
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Thu Apr 23, 2015 12:38 pm

Quoting parapente (Reply 31):

Electric motors and or battery's are just to heavy... Now if we are talking lithium ion polymer battery's? Then yes they are light but just not mature enough in technology to be used on a scale as big as a 747.. Case in point the 787 fiasco. Then there's thermal runoff

I personally think we got another decade for that. What I would like to see is variable VTOL like the osprey
Barack Obama is not a foreign born, brown skinned, anti-war socialist who gives away healthcare. You're thinking of Jesu
 
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Tomassjc
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Thu Apr 23, 2015 1:09 pm

Next big thing? Perhaps biometrics (Fingerprints)? One touch on the screen and you're checked in and bag tag is printed. Another touch and you're through the check point. One more tap on the screen and you're on the plane.

Tomas SJC
When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the Earth with your eyes turned skyward -Leonardo DaVinci
 
cobra27
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Thu Apr 23, 2015 1:25 pm

Maybe some thing new turboprop powered?
 
parapente
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Thu Apr 23, 2015 2:51 pm

Next big thing? Perhaps biometrics (Fingerprints)? One touch on the screen and you're checked in and bag tag is printed. Another touch and you're through the check point. One more tap on the screen and you're on the plane.

Tomas SJC

Good call! Now that would be good
 
BD338
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Thu Apr 23, 2015 3:02 pm

Quoting Yakflyer (Reply 21):
Quoting BD338 (Reply 3):
OR....return to 32" legroom in coach, meal service and no baggage fees (just kidding   )

Why do you say this is a joke?

I think the biggest issue for all those who do not want to squeeze into a ULC seat is simple comfort. I would trade all IFE for an inch or two of extra room for my knees and enough space to read a newspaper if the person in front of me decides to recline

I too would trade every IFE box in the world for an extra inch or two of legroom but the reason I said I was kidding, refers to the push for the almighty dollar and for the airlines (US at least) to squeeze as much as they can out of every asset or customer. They say it's because we demand low fares but if real honesty was a part of the process, they really want to deliver more revenue. More seats = more revenue. Some of the advance purchase, non-refundable fares I get stuck with are far from low price (~$0.30/mile, hub captive short segment flier) so I would hate to think what they would charge if they gave me legroom back. Still, I have enjoyed some great driving trips recently in lieu of flying, takes a little longer but there's more room in a comfier seat  
 
alhena
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Fri Apr 24, 2015 9:50 am

Quoting olle (Reply 32):
I saw an article about refuel airplanes midair in order to get down wight at takeoff

And how do you get the fuel midair? The cost to get it up there (energy-wise) would be the same, no?
 
lancelot07
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Fri Apr 24, 2015 1:32 pm

Quoting alhena (Reply 39):
And how do you get the fuel midair? The cost to get it up there (energy-wise) would be the same, no?

not necessarily so.
Refueling right after takeoff and climb will not make much sense, but refuelling about halfway certainly would reduce weight and save fuel. Of course only when refuelling happens close to an airport and not in the middle of an ocean.
 
smokeybandit
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Fri Apr 24, 2015 2:05 pm

I think the next innovation will be better flight and flight data tracking. More instantaneous location tracking in the event of an emergency and more instant access to flight data in those scenarios.
 
edmountain
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:22 pm

The diminutive nature of most of the suggestions thus far in this thread reflects how there have been no truly “big” innovations in air travel since the introduction of the first generation of jet airliners some 50 years ago. With the introduction of the 707, DC-8, and especially the 747, intercontinental travel was finally available to the masses and could be accomplished in a timeframe that was measured in hours instead of days or weeks. In so doing, the world suddenly became a smaller place and the broader societal implications—in everything from culture to immigration to commerce—have been profound. By contrast, all changes since then, including most of the suggestions in this thread--tweaking of IFE, slimline seats, etc--are all merely incremental.

As an illustration, consider how a trip from London to New York has changed over 50 year intervals from 1915 to 1965 and again to 2015. In 1915 the trip would have been a week-long voyage on a ship and, for most, the commitment required would have precluded anything but a one-way permanent relocation. By 1965 you could suddenly do the trip in a few hours; it was no longer a life-changing endeavour. Fast forward to 2015 and, for all intents and purposes, it’s the same as 1965. Sure there’s more choice, the planes are marginally more comfortable—especially up front—but it’s still largely the same experience when viewed in a societal context. The pace of change from 1915 to 1965 was nothing short of revolutionary: within the course of a human lifespan the world shrank by an order of magnitude. Since then the pace of change has slowed to a crawl; the world remains the same size today as it was in 1965.

So the next big innovation will not come in the form of on-board Netflix. Nor will it involve removing half an inch of padding from a Y-class seat. The next big innovation will be that which allows travel times to be reduced again by another order of magnitude. Such an innovation would be truly world-changing.
 
smokeybandit
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:41 pm

25 years ago, what would answers to this question have looked like? Or 50 years ago?

Think about some of the advancements in that time that may not have seemed at all possible at the time.

It's hard to tell what the next great thing is until we have it, since we don't know the next great thing.
 
StuckinCMHland
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RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Fri Apr 24, 2015 4:00 pm

Quoting edmountain (Reply 42):
The diminutive nature of most of the suggestions thus far in this thread reflects how there have been no truly “big” innovations in air travel since the introduction of the first generation of jet airliners some 50 years ago. With the introduction of the 707, DC-8, and especially the 747, intercontinental travel was finally available to the masses and could be accomplished in a timeframe that was measured in hours instead of days or weeks. In so doing, the world suddenly became a smaller place and the broader societal implications—in everything from culture to immigration to commerce—have been profound. By contrast, all changes since then, including most of the suggestions in this thread--tweaking of IFE, slimline seats, etc--are all merely incremental.

As an illustration, consider how a trip from London to New York has changed over 50 year intervals from 1915 to 1965 and again to 2015. In 1915 the trip would have been a week-long voyage on a ship and, for most, the commitment required would have precluded anything but a one-way permanent relocation. By 1965 you could suddenly do the trip in a few hours; it was no longer a life-changing endeavour. Fast forward to 2015 and, for all intents and purposes, it’s the same as 1965. Sure there’s more choice, the planes are marginally more comfortable—especially up front—but it’s still largely the same experience when viewed in a societal context. The pace of change from 1915 to 1965 was nothing short of revolutionary: within the course of a human lifespan the world shrank by an order of magnitude. Since then the pace of change has slowed to a crawl; the world remains the same size today as it was in 1965.

So the next big innovation will not come in the form of on-board Netflix. Nor will it involve removing half an inch of padding from a Y-class seat. The next big innovation will be that which allows travel times to be reduced again by another order of magnitude. Such an innovation would be truly world-changing.


I would only add one thing to your post sir, since you wrote what I planned to write. The next big innovation is taking people to new places, i.e. suborbital flights to cut time on long-haul flights substantially, and flights to stations in orbit above the Earth.

If we do not destroy ourselves, our culture, and our economy, there will be stations in orbit where real work and real business can be done. When suborbital flight occurs the world of air travel changes forever, and shortly thereafter regularly scheduled near-earth orbit will become possible and profitable.

[Edited 2015-04-24 09:02:09]
 
lancelot07
Posts: 1078
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2014 8:22 pm

RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Fri Apr 24, 2015 4:26 pm

Quoting smokeybandit (Reply 43):
25 years ago, what would answers to this question have looked like? Or 50 years ago?

50 years ago the answer was supersonic flight.
25 years ago we still had that.

In 25 years, we will have it again. In planes the size of the Concorde, but with much longer range, flying point to point.
 
cloudboy
Posts: 1124
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2004 12:38 pm

RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Fri Apr 24, 2015 6:00 pm

Quoting edmountain (Reply 42):
The diminutive nature of most of the suggestions thus far in this thread reflects how there have been no truly “big” innovations in air travel since the introduction of the first generation of jet airliners some 50 years ago. With the introduction of the 707, DC-8, and especially the 747, intercontinental travel was finally available to the masses and could be accomplished in a timeframe that was measured in hours instead of days or weeks. In so doing, the world suddenly became a smaller place and the broader societal implications—in everything from culture to immigration to commerce—have been profound. By contrast, all changes since then, including most of the suggestions in this thread--tweaking of IFE, slimline seats, etc--are all merely incremental.

As an illustration, consider how a trip from London to New York has changed over 50 year intervals from 1915 to 1965 and again to 2015. In 1915 the trip would have been a week-long voyage on a ship and, for most, the commitment required would have precluded anything but a one-way permanent relocation. By 1965 you could suddenly do the trip in a few hours; it was no longer a life-changing endeavour. Fast forward to 2015 and, for all intents and purposes, it’s the same as 1965. Sure there’s more choice, the planes are marginally more comfortable—especially up front—but it’s still largely the same experience when viewed in a societal context. The pace of change from 1915 to 1965 was nothing short of revolutionary: within the course of a human lifespan the world shrank by an order of magnitude. Since then the pace of change has slowed to a crawl; the world remains the same size today as it was in 1965.

So the next big innovation will not come in the form of on-board Netflix. Nor will it involve removing half an inch of padding from a Y-class seat. The next big innovation will be that which allows travel times to be reduced again by another order of magnitude. Such an innovation would be truly world-changing.

Are you referring to innovation in air travel, or travel in general? And from what perspective?
Looking back from many years later, it is easy to pick out the great big steps and which ones had the most impact. But you are only selecting from a few, well organized examples. At the time jet engines were not seen anywhere near the great innovations they look today - they were toys for the rich, specialized extras for a high fee. Long term, beyond what those people could see, they had a huge effect on where and how we got to other places.

For that matter, though, we will look at the Internet and electronic ticketing as perhaps as great a change. Suddenly you didn't need specialist to book travel. Customers had the means, and used them, to find the cheapest flights. they also could decide where and how they got to their destination. How airlines responded to that change has shaped air travel just as much as jet engines did.

So in that vein, I think some of these "small" innovations are going to turn out to have huge impacts. What are the long term effects going to be of security? Pricing structures? Profitability (and thus successful competition against other forms of travel) versus passenger demand for comfort?

Then again, why do all innovations have to be big? The small innovations adding up can have much bigger impacts for society as a whole.
"Six becoming three doesn't create more Americans that want to fly." -Adam Pilarski
 
planemaker
Posts: 5411
Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2003 12:53 pm

RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Fri Apr 24, 2015 8:18 pm

Quoting edmountain (Reply 42):
Such an innovation would be truly world-changing.

It wouldn't because the speed isn't truly "required"... and it will be "required" even less in the future.
Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind. - A. Einstein
 
golfradio
Posts: 919
Joined: Mon Jun 15, 2009 5:35 pm

RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Fri Apr 24, 2015 8:29 pm

Quoting lancelot07 (Reply 4):
supersonic flight !
Quoting MasseyBrown (Reply 5):
The future of propulsion will likely involve electric engines.

Where are those warp drives already. At least give us those some ion drives now.

Quoting edmountain (Reply 42):
Fast forward to 2015 and, for all intents and purposes, it’s the same as 1965. Sure there’s more choice, the planes are marginally more comfortable—especially up front—but it’s still largely the same experience when viewed in a societal context

You underestimate the impact of safety. In the last 40 decades, the revolution has been achieving safer flights at lower costs. That lower cost has helped achieve more people to travel.
CSeries forever. Bring back the old site.
 
RJNUT
Posts: 1829
Joined: Thu Dec 30, 1999 1:58 am

RE: Next Big Innovation For Airlines

Fri Apr 24, 2015 8:43 pm

i think from a market standpointn ONEJET might be on the cusp of innovation of point to point travel not geared for the masses. it should be priced as a premium which i dont think they they are currently charging

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