Catch the 2093 to space: It’s the flight of future (IANS Book Review)

December 9th, 2008 - 2:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Book: Departure 2093 - Five Visions of Future Flying; Editor: Christer Haglund; Publisher: Finnair; Price: Select Distribution onlySlow moving lines at security checks, even more crowded immigration counters and the rush for boarding passes - the experience of flying in 2008 is still far from pleasurable.

Cut to 2093! Flying will be much safer, streamlined, environment-friendly and futuristic with an aeroplane able to offload its passengers at one of the space hotels, orbiting the earth, instead of just a holiday destination on ground.

“Departure 2093: Five Visions of Future Flying”, a compilation of short visions on the future of flying more than eight decades from hence, says flying will be more popular than ever, more adventurous, profitable for the industry and a personal experience.

Jukka Hienonen, president and chief operating officer of Finnair, sums up the thoughts behind the book as a sneak peek into the flight paths of the future. “In today’s hectic world, it is easy to focus on current problems instead of looking into the future. It is, however, our duty to look further ahead since we have a responsibility for the future generations.

“I hope this book will inspire readers to engage in stimulating discussions,” Hienonen says.

The book, published by Finnair to mark its 85th anniversary, borrows liberally from school day science fiction to etch a fetching picture of the future of aviation - when space is no longer a distant dream.

It is a cross between a fairy tale and a journal, which offers wacky yet pragmatic insights into how things will be in 2093, and outlines countless scenarios for the future.

In 2008, the world was teetering on the brink of an energy crisis. Oil was in short supply and the surfeit of bio-fuels in the market had hiked the price of food. But by 2093, a breakthrough has been made in fusion energy - with sun, geo-thermal energy, biogas, winds and waves emerging as sources.

People jet set cross-country several times a week and long-haul flights for leisure is a fad, as travel is cheap and harmless - for an emission free air transport model was worked out in 2050.

The new aircraft is silent, intelligent, adaptive and small. The cornerstone for aviation in 2093 years on will be “an aircraft for all”.

A typical model could be a combination of a helicopter and a small aircraft - 7.60 metres from nose to tail - the first version of which will be introduced in 2020.

“We have to deal with our current environmental concerns to develop aviation further,” says Joao Frota, an engineer with the Airbus, in the book.

“But I am convinced that the concerns we have today will no longer be the same in 50 and 85 years from now. The use of air will solve the problems that we have with the use of land.”

Aviation journalist Heikki Haapavaara has already purchased two tickets to space as one of the first three space tourists who will travel on a ship manufactured by the EADS Astrium company in 2012.

A “time traveller”, Haapavaara paints a Monday morning air-scape of the future at the departures terminal of the Helsinki Space and Airport.

Liisa Li, a midwife at the children’s clinic at the Station, a giant space station township, in the northern sky, registers herself for a quixotic Monday morning scramble to report to work on time.

Her shuttle, a small 150-seat craft, lifts off from the gate on an outer space route above the Atlantic. The tagline is “We’ll be there before we left”.

So tighten your seat belts to fly to the future. The trajectory sure looks smooth.

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