Featured image of Airbus A350-900 cockpit by JT Genter
: Between phones, computers, ATM machines, and other kinds of electronics, it’s no question that touchscreen technology has changed the way the world functions. Even some cars can practically be fully operated through touchscreen displays now. But you won’t find any touchscreen displays in an airliner cockpit — until now. That’s changing.
Airbus is currently testing touchscreen displays on its A350-1000 development aircraft. “We will soon deliver touchscreens [on the A350] to a launch operator,” said Airbus A350 XWB marketing director François Obé, according to Flight Global. He did not say which airline, but A350-1000s, the biggest version of the plane, are being delivered to launch customers Qatar Airways and Cathay Pacific.
There’s no timescale for when the technology will be available, but Airbus assures that it’s coming soon and it already has customers for it.
Airbus intends to incorporate the touch-control function for the two onboard information system (OIS) displays and the central multi-function display (MFD). Now, pilots must use keyboards and cursor control units to navigate these displays. The new displays will be much simpler and function similar to tablets, including familiar gestures like pinch-to-zoom, the Points Guy.
While Airbus will be the first manufacturer to offer touchscreen technology in airliner cockpits, it’s not the only one to be developing it. Boeing has plans to also debut touchscreen technology on its new 777X aircraft when it enters service in 2020.
The introduction of touchscreen technology to airliner cockpits is definitely an exciting development, though not a complete first for the industry. Gulfstream already offers it for some of its business jets. Airports around the world are also going digital and implementing touch-sensitive aviation technology, but most are outside the US.