After a difficult year in aviation – the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX after two fatal accidents, the collapse of the computer systems of airlines in the United States, the announcement of the end of the superjumbo Airbus A380 – we needed to good news about commercial flights. He arrived in the form of a future revolutionary jetliner.
In early June, CNN sank into the story of an innovative aircraft called Flying-V, funded by KLM, based in Amsterdam. It is an airliner with a new titillating form, summed up by her eponymous letter. According to preliminary information, the Flying-V will match the capacity of current large aircraft, such as the Airbus A350 and the Boeing 787, but there is a problem. Two aisles descend on two separate fuselages, which include the wings themselves. (This means that half of the window seats are fixed on doppelganger seats through a minimum of air.)
The idea of a V-shaped aircraft is not entirely new, but KLM has expressed interest in making this geometry the vanguard of commercial flying. The Flying-V promises notably greater energy efficiency by exploiting the "synergy" between the wings and the body of the aircraft.
Stores like Boing Boing and Travel + Leisure at Maxim picked up the torch, quoting and reciting CNN to copy and recycle striking illustrations from the concept aircraft, as he was already connected to a jet bridge and ready to receive passengers. Ready to fly.
But there is one curious thing about the Flying-V. All this buzz around a futuristic plane really has everything to do with the Anthropocene – our current turn in geological history, an inflection defined by the destructive human impact.
The stories of the Flying-V have always been articulated around a desire to durability commercial flight. Each article highlighted how the new aircraft promised fuel economy up to 20% higher, and several elements highlighted the carbon dioxide emissions in the world, currently too high, celebrating the new design. The subtext of all these reports is that air transport as we know it has devastating effects on the environment. This is clearly apparent from the interruption of bird migration routes and spillover effects on carbon emissions into the atmosphere and the voracious consumption of fossil fuels. The first-page articles on the Flying-V almost all admit that air transport is an exorbitant waste and that it reaches a critical point. And yet, in these stories, the commercial flight is taken as a given, something to continue relentlessly.
The media coverage of the Flying-V turns out to focus on an alternative present, even if it is about sustainable development future flight form, in "20 to 30 years". All the hype is really centered on what we think about commercial flying – and the environment – at the present time. To jump several decades into the future as if it were basically the same thing was a sign of bad faith: as if he admitted that no progress would be made, and that we would continue to tinker with our destiny. As such, the story of this imaginary plane also relates to our inability to conceive of the Anthropocene as a real problem that we could address in the near future, by more pragmatic and less flamboyant steps. It is not only a quick technological solution or a slight adjustment to an existing situation. On the contrary, the Anthropocene requires that humans, on a large scale, react radically, through a complete realignment of how our species understands and interacts with the planet and its innumerable inhabitants.
The media coverage of the Flying-V turns out to focus on an alternative present.
Given the reality of commercial aircraft nowadays, the tenacious rivalry of the two battlehorses, the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 737; the trembling of the 737 MAX still in the ground (not necessarily also sold with the promise of greater energy efficiency); the end of large aircraft – we have reason to be seriously skeptical about any company that could significantly change the shape of commercial aircraft. As we know, commercial air transport is too entrenched and is increasingly becoming a one-design: twin-engine airliners, small to medium size, geared towards global productivity. The costs and duration of the conversion are prohibitive factors for any serious reinvention of the flight.
And speaking of costs: The small print of the new Flying-V explains that it is not a "new aircraft" – at least not yet – but rather a certain large company (KLM) who finances l & # 39; idea of a new plane. Funding is the key, and why some environmental thinkers prefer the name Capitalocène for our present time: it highlights the fantasy of huge amounts of capital accumulated by multinational conglomerates or powerful sole proprietors, a capital that could then be used appropriately, as if to solve magically and accurately the problems posed by modernity.
Of course, the capital does not work that way, as if it could skip the future or splinter and do something at once (build a wall, invent a new plane, provide Wi-Fi to all , go on Mars). No, the capital is distributed but unevenly distributed. he exploits many people while raising very little. Capital relies on itself but not with another goal in mind. Capital does not care about sustainability, but accumulates as much as it can. In other words, while air transport concerns the real origins and destinations, the capital does not need to leave. nowhere in order to develop. Maybe he does not even need a world.
Finally, we must speak of the name: Vol-V. A reference to the Gibson Electric Guitar "Flying-V", it makes any business similar to a glam entertainment. The name evokes Lenny Kravitz, or perhaps Eddie Van Halen, at an epic show in the past. As if it was only a sparkling rock concert, a mass show in which we could wake up from tomorrow morning, hangover and say to what a great time it was. And in a sense, that was.
An almost new short that has circulated online for a day or two, the Flying-V story becomes part of the Anthropocene in another way. It reflects the strangely timeless drift of the Internet, the lazy but relentless expansion of circuits and devices, nodes and wires, screens and buttons, satellites and cell towers: all the infrastructure and the device that blocks us here Confront simultaneously the horror of a horizon beyond which all these things will become obsolete, Internet, an endangered memory of a past that seems to have plenty. Where we have listed all our hopes and fears, where we have even stored our planes of the future, planes that show that we have learned and adjusted our behavior to live more sensitively in the world. But it turned out that we were just hastening the end of the world as we know it, insisting that everything be the same, even as we thought we were planning a better way to fly, to live.
Time of the future
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