If the window seat doesn't cut it for you when flying, how about a roof seat? The SkyDeck, designed by aerospace engineering firm Windspeed Technologies, will give passengers 360-degree views from a transparent bubble installed on the top of a plane.
Windspeed says that, in designing the SkyDeck, its aim was to create "exciting experiential in-flight entertainment for VIP aircraft owners and the airline industry." It suggests that the SkyDeck could act as an additional source of revenue for airlines, with passengers paying to experience it.
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The transparent canopy will be made of materials similar to those used for the canopies of supersonic fighter jets. It will be accessible via elevator or staircase, depending on the version, and there will be rotatable seats for passengers to take in the views. Either a one-seat or two-seat configuration is available to order and GPS systems integrated into the platform will provide flight and location information.
Windspeed says it will be possible to install the SkyDeck on a wide variety of aircraft, from wide-bodies to smaller executive jets. Despite this, there were still a number of hurdles that had to be overcome in the design to make it feasible.
Initial concerns are said to have been focused on whether or not the SkyDeck's canopy would interfere with the aircraft's tail performance. Employing a teardrop-like canopy shape and ensuring its height was optimized, however, are reported to have mitigated these. Additional fuel usage due to drag, meanwhile, is claimed negligible due to the rear positioning of the SkyDeck.
Other considerations have included required structural modifications, the structural integrity of the canopy to withstand a bird strike and flight loads, condensation, noise levels, UV protection, safety and ingress and egress requirements. Although these all had to be worked through, Winspeed says that its experience in helping to develop aircraft ultimately made the engineering "pretty straight forward."
The SkyDeck idea was conceived in mid 2014 and was made public in May 2015. Windspeed says the conceptual design phase is complete and that it will commence a final design stage once orders have been confirmed. Although no orders have been made as of writing, Windspeed tells Gizmag that Airbus is one firm that has shown interest. The first SkyDeck is expected to roll out about 18 months after the first order is made.
The video below provides an introduction to the SkyDeck concept.