Faster Flying

Five ways virtual reality will transform air travel

Forget Lawnmower Man, virtual reality is already here. The Faster Track reveals how this new tech will cure your fear of flying, transform your trips and revolutionise in-flight entertainment…


There is no fear...

In the past year, aviophobes visiting Israel's University of Haifa for treatment have been donning VR headsets to help them overcome their phobias. The patients sit in an airline seat kitted out to provide the knocks and bumps you'd feel during a flight. In this controlled environment, therapists can manage a patient's anxiety at each stage - taxi, take-off and landing. 


Try before you fly

British Airways recently gave guests in Milan, Frankfurt and Paris a chance to experience three of the airline's destinations in the US. Wearing the headsets they chose to 'try' riding a bucking bronco in Texas, rollerskating down a Californian boardwalk or ice skating in New York's Bryant Park - all been filmed on six cameras to create a their 360-degree world. 


Virtually safe

Scientists at Italy's University of Udine have invented a creative way to get everyone paying attention to the in-flight safety drill. Testers put on an Oculus Rift headset for a briefing by a virtual flight attendant, before experiencing what happens when the plane has to make an emergency landing. The simulation is based on real events and shows the correct steps to take in such a situation. Those who'd had the virtual experience were better at remembering safety guidelines than those who'd only looked at cards. See it here


Future films

The most exciting thing to come out of this year's Sundance Film Festival wasn't a film, but a new way of watching films altogether. Using VR, movie Lost follows a robot hand trying to get back to its owner. Filmmakers have realised that VR creates an unparalleled sense of immersion, so it can only be a matter of time before airlines introduce it as part of their in-flight entertainment. Check out the trailer for Henry, the next film from Oculus Rift. 


Gain a new appreciation for aviation

Birdly is a completely new species of flight simulator. Instead of paddles, buttons and joysticks, Birdly lets you simulate flight with just your body movements. Fly through a virtual New York City, rolling your body to control your height and speed. The technology is currently on tour in the US.