There is this ole song ‘In the year twenty five twenty five’…
The lyrics begin…
“In the year twenty five twenty five
If man is still alive
If woman can survive…”
2525 AD is a far way to go. How about some musings about 2030? That’s around the corner all right.
Shall we ‘take off’ with the musings?
Last few years in India has changed the face of air travel. Airports are simply bursting at the seams. Long queues to enter the airport, at the check-in counters, and at the security-check points are routine. And when you get past all this, into the ‘please await the boarding call’ area of the airport, the place is often so crowded that one does not find a place to sit. And the flight is usually delayed due to ATC. (A few years ago, the term ‘ATC’ meant only one thing – ‘Air Traffic Control’. Now a new phenomenon has taken over this acronym – ‘Air Traffic Congestion’).
The fact of the matter is that air traffic is now becoming mass transport. What the railways and roadways struggle with today, the airways will struggle with before day-after-tomorrow. Today, with over six hundred flights per week between Mumbai and Delhi, this route features as one of the ten busiest routes in the world. And pundits are predicting that soon, more Indian routes will figure in that bracket. Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad will figure right up there…
So what will it look like in 2030 and beyond?
Will airplane designs be radically different? Will a plane be able to accommodate as many passengers as, say, the Grand Trunk Express? Take the cinema theatres, for eg. Twenty five years ago, theatres were crowded places, where you sit in closely packed seats, and step out once during the interval, to smoke filled lobbies and jostle through crowds to grab a popcorn and a coke. Not any more. The theatre is a plush experience, with shopping, lounges and stuff. Will the fuselage of the future be a bigger version of what it is now, or will it transform into a new theatre altogether?
Can we sustain such traffic with existing airport processes? How many airports will be there in each large city? Will it be one or two or will there be a new model, which has many feeder airports in different parts of the city? Will there be new technologies, and new fuels, that make cost of travel a fraction of what it is now? Will aircraft technology be ‘green’? Will small aircrafts replace the current bus systems, and even cars? Can one fly to work or to shop, from the suburb to the city center? Will there be personal aircrafts that has a relative cost about as much as what a motorcycle costs today? What do you think?
In the year Twenty – Fifty five,
What will be left of the sky?
Where, O where, will all the birds fly?