It probably comes as a considerable surprise to say it but EasyJet is boldly going where no airline has been before. After being treated to a glimpse of the future inside a Milanese airport hangar, ShortList reports on how the company might change the way you travel.
3D Printed Aircaft Parts
Don’t worry, we'd be worried the planes might start plummeting from the sky in a hail of nuts and bolts too if we weren’t savvy enough to know about the advancements of 3D printing. Gone are the days of flimsy plastic, these machines are now capable of weaving complex stainless steel designs including fuel nozzles, fan blades and other delicate engine parts which will now take hours rather than days to manufacture. And, erm, armrests.
“Finally”, you sigh, “armed drones to keep those unruly Ibiza-bound stag parties in check”. Not quite that dystopian but not too far off. EasyJet revealed that it has already used one automated drone – using scanners to check for faults, bumps or tears in aircraft before feeding the results back to the control room with frightening accuracy - to successfully inspect one of its aircraft. With Bedford-based Blue Bear Systems providing the kit, more drones are expected by the end of the year.
Running so far towards the terminal gate you're practically in another time zone? Given the sheer size of modern airports, those panic-inducing last minute dashes to the plane with a Boots meal deal in-hand are consistently of the biggest air travel annoyances - which is why we should be thankful for EasyJet Host, available on the company's new and improved 64-bit app and using geo mapping to guide you through the airport from bag drop to departures lounge. Once inside departures you receive a push notification with your gate number and a map to guide you to your boarding gate. Currently only available in Gatwick, EasyJet says it will be launching in other airports (one strongly believed to be Edinburgh) within the next 12 months.
Volcanic Cloud Detection Systems
Head of engineering for the airline Ian Davies also used the showcase to announce the airline would be rolling out Airborne Volcanic Object Identifier And Detector on the next generation of fleet following successful testing. Developed in the wake of 2012's Icelandic volcano eruption, this revolutionary kit can identify ash cloud from 60km away. Which, let’s face it, makes Pierce Brosnan in Dante’s Peak look like a damned amateur.
Fairly soon recruits won’t need hulking great simulators to receive training, just a pair of goggles. That's right, EasyJet has created a virtual reality game for the Oculus Rift. While it probably isn't going to impact you in any way – well, unless you get more thrills from stowing bags away as you do on Call Of Duty – it’s nonetheless impressive.
Wearable Watch Apps
Need further reason to sell a kidney and invest in an Apple Watch? 20,000 flyers have already used EasyJet's smartwatch app, allowing those lucky souls to scan their boarding QR code by flashing a wrist over the scanner (provided it fits). What're more, the watch app also includes a daily countdown to your flight along with local information about the destination from everything to temperature to currency exchange rate. See, time really does fly when you’re having fun.