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Future of Travel
26/05 - 2014

Future of Travel

When my grand-father invented the pressurized cabin and made in 1931 the first flight ever in the stratosphere, one of his goals was to demonstrate that it was possible to reach an altitude where the fuel consumption would be smaller due to thinner air. Eco friendly aviation was born on that day. This is why I committed myself to achieve the ultimate energy saving : flying around the world with no fuel at all. This is the goal of Solar Impulse for 2015.


Will commercial aviation soon be able to transport passengers on solar power only ? I would be crazy to answer yes and stupid to answer no ! The technology for it doesn’t exist today, but it was also impossible to transport passengers with fuel when the Wright Brothers did their first flights in 1903.


This is why I believe in the developments made by my friend Richard Branson for a cleaner aviation. Biofuel of third generation to decrease the consumption of fossil energy, but also another project I follow with high interest : Virgin Galactic. Not only to bring tourists to the edge of space, but to prepare suborbital air transport. Can you imagine a take-off in Europe with clean energy, a climb to 100 km high, followed by a parabolic flight to Australia and a landing after 1 hour ? And you get a zero-gravity experience for the same price… This is what I see as the future of commercial air transport.


Meanwhile, we’ll witness the emergence of cleaner aviation: lighter airplanes, more direct routes, constant descent approaches, and electric motors. I bet that battery driven airplanes with 2 to 4 seats will be available in 5 years time.


We need visions to become a reality. The impossible can be achieved only if we learn how to think and act outside of the usual certitudes and convictions. This is called pioneering spirit and it is what we all need to invent a better future.


Bertrand Piccard

Originally published in Virgin's Future Of Travel section: