Would You Sit in a Private Glass Bubble on Top of an Airplane?
Passengers on business jets may soon have a new option for passing the time on long flights—a glass-enclosed SkyDeck installed at the top of the fuselage that would provide 360-degree views of the outside world. Two comfortable seats are accessed by either a staircase or an elevator, and once the passengers are aloft, the seats can be rotated to take in the view in any direction. The concept was developed by Windspeed Technologies, based in Everett, Wash., an experienced aerospace engineering firm. The company has been working on the specifications for more than a year, and have filed a patent application. The SkyDeck can be installed on private jets as a VIP amenity or as a pay-per-view feature on passenger airliners. “The concept attracted a lot of attention at the recent conference of the National Business Aviation Association, in Las Vegas,” says Shakil Hussain, the firm’s CEO. “A large aircraft manufacturer in Europe plans to start offering the SkyDeck to potential customers soon.”
The SkyDeck’s teardrop shape and minimal height will not interfere with airflow across an airplane’s fuselage and tail surfaces, and its aerodynamic profile minimizes drag. For executive jets, the added weight should be no problem, according to Windspeed, though it will add to fuel consumption. The canopy will be made from high-strength materials similar to those used in the canopies of supersonic fighter jets, and will be designed to withstand all load conditions, including bird strikes. The canopy also will be treated to prevent condensation and to protect the travelers within from ultraviolet rays. Each system will be custom-fitted to the aircraft type and will be certified to meet all safety requirements of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. The company estimates the price per aircraft at about $8 million to $25 million. (windspeedtech.com)