‘Air travelers worldwide will double by 2035’
The number of air travelers worldwide will be doubled by 2035 to 8 billion passengers. So, where is the ‘flygskam’? But at the same time, the opposition against the noise, pollution and the nuisance, in general, will increase. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), there will be more and more delays and congestion if the European authorities don’t take measures.
Airplane constructors, airports, governments, and cities have to work together. “Flying has to become cleaner, cheaper, less noisy, and economically more efficient,” says Joris Melkert, an expert at the technical university in Delft.
Other countries have already taken measures against flying, like taxing aviation. Recently, the Dutch government considered a tax on air tickets, like in Germany and the UK. In Sweden, the shame of flying, “Flygskam”, is going viral. And in France, member of parliament François Ruffin has proposed a ban on national flights.
Together with the Dutch airline company, KLM, the TU Delft has designed a futuristic airplane that is far more aerodynamic than the actual planes. The concept consists of some smart adaptations of existing models, like the Boeing 737 Max or the Airbus A320 Neo. Most airplane builders have ideas to fly ‘greener’, but the question is whether they will ever see the light of day.
20-year life span
“Those vehicles still look like an ordinary airplane with a tail and wings, but they’re all computer-controlled and made of light materials to consume less fuel. Airplane constructors usually stick to existing concepts to avoid business risks. But you need to have the guts to make things change,” Melkert explains.
This change will only be possible after 2040, expects Melkert. “Because the order books are full and an airplane has an average life span of twenty years.”
Laws of physics
Melkert does not believe in electric flying shortly. “The most realistic way to tackle pollution is a transition to bio-kerosene or synthetic fuels, at least when it will be used at a larger scale. The TU professor also wants to moderate the ‘futuristic dreams’ of some popular magazines. “Flying still is submitted to the laws of physics, when it comes to lifting and propulsion.”
According to Melkert, it is unavoidable that in the future, there will be only one pilot in the cockpit, supported from the ground for safety reasons.
And what about space travel? According to the Dutch astronaut, André Kuipers, space will become accessible for passenger flights, for tourism, and to travel faster. “Flying is space is safe,” Kuipers says. “But we have to find clean and quiet ways of flying. People need to fly and meet, understand, and appreciate other people’s cultures.”