These tech solutions could cut air travel time by one hour

19 Jun 2018

Image: alice-photo/Shutterstock

A group of researchers is aiming to make all of our lives easier over the summer break with new innovations that could cut our travel time by as much as an hour.

The vast majority of holiday travellers this summer dread the trek through the airport.

However, an EU-funded research project called Passme has spent the past few years putting together some scientific and engineering solutions that could make the whole ordeal up to an hour shorter.

Small savings add up

One of the most interesting of its solutions is the concept of redesigning aircraft interiors to include shrinkable aircraft seats.

Taking up the most space aboard an aircraft by a distance, aircraft seats have always posed an efficiency problem for airlines, leading to companies such as Ryanair going so far as to suggest standing areas for flights less than one hour.

The Passme seats are designed to shrink at the touch of a button, doubling the width of the aisle from 16in to 32in. This, its designers said, would speed up journey times by allowing passengers to move more easily through the cabin during boarding and disembarking, with two passengers being able to walk smoothly off the aeroplane together side by side.

The wider aisle can also fit a wheelchair, improving the experience of passengers with reduced mobility.

“Several airlines have already expressed an interest in this invention,” said Suzanne Hiemstra-van Mastrigt, one of the Passme researchers.

“This innovation saves up to 15 minutes. It might not seem like much, but even a few minutes can be crucial for airlines that might face delays of up to 25 minutes if they miss their time slot for take-off.”

Real-time passenger forecasting

Real-time analytics and measurement of passenger numbers is one thing that is sure to ‘take off’ in the years ahead, and the researchers believe their Passme Passenger Demand Forecast system could cut waiting time by up to 30 minutes.

Using Wi-Fi and real-time data, staff could use the system to adapt to airport capacity and services, such as staffing, as well as anticipate passenger demand at various points, such as security and border control.

On the passenger side of things, the researchers delved into the world of wearables, with the creation of the Passme app and wristband, designed to allow passengers to relax and make the best use of their available time at the airport.

Somewhat eerily, the wristband monitors stress levels of the passenger, informing them of how to manage stress and arrive at their gate on time. More usefully, it would also include indoor navigation and personalised information from airports and airlines.

Speaking of its work, Passme coordinator Sicco Santema said: “In the next 20 years, worldwide air passenger numbers are expected to double to more than 7.5bn.

“Therefore, the Passme innovations will help ensure our airports run smoothly and passengers get to their destinations as quickly and as stress-free as possible.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic