The “Sky Whale” — and No More Cockpit on Airbus Aircraft?!?

Might being a passenger on a Sky Whale aircraft be in your future? Image courtesy of Oscar Viñals via Click on the image above to view more images of the Sky Whale.

A concept exists for an aircraft which could possibly render the Airbus A380 aircraft as Lilliputian — and speaking of Airbus, the aircraft manufacturer is seeking to eliminate the traditional cockpit as we know it from airplanes in the future.
Oscar Viñals created a design for an aircraft known as the AWWA Sky Whale — I have yet to find out at this time what is the meaning behind AWWA — which would supposedly increase the self-sufficiency of the aircraft; while reducing fuel consumption, emissions, drag, weight and noise — as well as reduce damages from an emergency landing.
There is a lot of technical mumbo-jumbo in which I am rather disinterested; but even if the aircraft became as environmentally “green” and efficient as purported, there are other factors to consider — such as:
  • How long will be the duration of the time to board all of the passengers?
  • Would there be enough exits for passengers to escape in the unlikely event of an emergency?
  • Could it reduce the frequency of flights, as more passengers are being transported at once from origination to destination?

The Airbus A380 could transport as many as 850 passengers on two decks, depending on the configuration — or perhaps even as many as 1,000 passengers on a model known three years ago as the Airbus A380-1000; whereas the Sky Whale could potentially transport as many as 755 passengers on three decks. I do not recall the points listed above as negative factors for passengers, so they may collectively be a non-issue.
I am personally not convinced that the Sky Whale is the future of air travel; as I believe that there comes a point where there are simply too many passengers on one aircraft. I can only imagine the jet bridge for this aircraft in order to load and unload passengers: three stories tall? That contraption would probably start to resemble some mechanical spider from a horror movie…
…but although I am all for finding ways to improve technology while simultaneously protecting the environment as diligently as possible, is the removal of the traditional cockpit from aircraft part of the answer?
FlyerTalk members are not convinced that removing windows from the cockpit — in order to reduce drag and increase the efficiency of the aircraft — is the answer. Airbus SAS has received a patent in the United States for an aircraft of the future where pilots — possibly seated downstairs in the belly of the aircraft in front of the cargo hold or upstairs in the tail — could view real-time images displayed digitally rather than traditionally through windows of a cockpit.
Based on my extremely limited experience piloting several flight simulators, this is indeed possible: a pilot can use the altitude indicator on some airplanes manufactured by Boeing — such as the 777-200, for example, of which there is a photograph of me piloting one here — to land the aircraft instead of looking out of the cockpit windows using his or her eyes simply by ensuring that the target on the indicator is within a box for a safe landing…
…but I would think that in the event of an irregular operation, using and implementing visuals and instruments simultaneously would be the most effective way to fly the aircraft safely. Then again — what do I know?!?
Of course, it may not be an airplane itself that could transform global travel in the future: this system of high-speed transportation through tubes where you could purportedly travel from New York to Beijing in two hours has been promoted as the future of travel; but it has its own share of problems and issues.
In my opinion, it would be nice if commercial air travel as we know it today had more viable competition available to the public. Sure, there are cruise ships, buses, trains and other modes of transportation which currently exist — but for the purpose of speed for flights of two hours in duration or more, nothing currently beats the jet airplane. Competition spurs more innovation and potentially lower costs to you — and in my opinion, there really is not enough competition within commercial aviation these days, which one might argue is one huge oligopoly.
Would you like to see production of a Sky Whale in the future? Would you fly as a passenger on one? Is bigger necessarily better pertaining to commercial aviation? How do you feel about abandoning the traditional airplane cockpit?

6 thoughts on “The “Sky Whale” — and No More Cockpit on Airbus Aircraft?!?”

  1. mtdd says:

    ..”other modes of transpiration”…
    Freudian slip?

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Nope — a technology slip called autocorrect occurred rather than a Freudian slip — which slipped by me but has been corrected.
      Thank you for bringing that to my attention, mtdd.

  2. writerguyfl says:

    My biggest concern would be the infrastructure costs related to these mega-planes. Who is going to pay for tri-level jet bridges? If recent history is our guide, those costs get pushed onto the airport. Of course, those costs tickle down the line in the form of airport fees paid by ticket-buyers. I’d guess that if those infrastructure costs were included in the price of the plane, this project would be dead in the water.
    Of course, it’s not just airlines that expect someone else to pay so they can make more money using new, bigger toys. Many US ports are expanding so that they can accept the New Panamax cargo ships. Unfortunately, neither the shipping companies nor the multi-national corporations who will reap the rewards are the ones paying for these upgrades.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      You hit a nerve with me with the statement “Of course, it’s not just airlines that expect someone else to pay so they can make more money using new, bigger toys”, writerguyfl. The Atlanta Braves are moving to the county in which I live and want the taxpayers to pay part of the cost of a new stadium to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Why can’t they pay for the entire stadium? They can afford it.
      As far as the tri-level bridges, a second look at the image above implies that there is no emergency exit door on the third level. It appears that the size of that third level could be comparable to that of the Boeing 747-8i aircraft; but if that third level is larger, I would be concerned about there being no emergency exit door. Would window exits be adequate enough? I do not know…

  3. traveller001 says:

    Interesting concept. I don’t see more Jumbos in the future.
    I can’t see the in wing engines for the same reason the Comet failed.
    However the design seems fairly sound if downsized to a two engine wide body. In wing engines could be mounted further aft but close to fuselage ensuring wing integrity with a high velocity failure. Engine replacement would be similar to sliding them out of a Fighter aircraft. Access panels to most failure prone engine items would reduce repair time.
    The shape of the fuselage intrigues me… adding lift to something that was previously just a tube sounds like a win-win.

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