Emirates has unveiled the virtual windows on board the first class cabin of its newest Boeing 777-300ER aircraft in a bid to cut costs and increase speed and efficiency.
The airline intends to remove all windows from future planes, too. Instead of looking out at the outside world, passengers will see images projected from outside the aircraft using fibre-optic cameras.
“Imagine now a fuselage as you’re boarding with no windows, but when you get inside, there are windows,” Emirates president Sir Tim Clark told the BBC.
He said that the images were “so good, it’s better than with the natural eye”.
The Emirates boss added: ”Now you have one fuselage which has no structural weaknesses because of windows.
“The aircraft are lighter, the aircraft could fly faster, they’ll burn far less fuel and fly higher.”
Last week, at the Annual General Meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), it was predicted that fuel prices will increase by 25 per cent this year, so it’s to be expected that airlines are coming up with more inventive ways to keep costs low.
By upping the strength of the fuselage, survivability in the event of a crash landing could also be increased – a significant advantage of a windowless plane.
However, one important function of aircraft windows at the moment is that passengers and crew can look outside and spot any hazards there may be.
For instance, if an engine on one side is ablaze, passengers know to evacuate from the other side, before they’ve even opened the door. This is why cabin crew require window blinds to be open and cabin lights dimmed during take off and landing.
Another concern is the issue of claustrophobia and the effect of so much screen technology on passengers – especially on long haul flights.
Many passengers already suffer from anxiety while flying and taking away their ability to see outside could make this worse.
However, aviation regulator the European Aviation Safety Agency, said, “We do not see any specific challenge that could not be overcome to ensure a level of safety equivalent to the one of an aircraft fitted with cabin windows.”
Emirates was this year named Airline of the Year at the 2018 Air Transport Awards.
As the largest airline in the Middle East, Emirates’ network spans to 159 destinations in 85 countries.
It also boasts one of the world’s younger wide-body fleets, made up of Boeing 777 and Airbus A380s.
Emirates has made a number of enhancements to its fleet over the past year, including a refurbished A380 Onboard Lounge with private yacht-inspired decor.
A luxurious new Business Class cabin has been introduced, with wider seats laid out in a 2-2-2 configuration on its Boeing 777-200LR aircraft.
Emirates has also worked to make Economy Class more comfortable for passengers, introducing sustainable blankets made from 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles.
On the ground, the airline has expanded its lounge network, taking this to a total of 41 dedicated Emirates Lounges globally.