When someone mentions new aircraft technologies, it’s easy to imagine all sorts of wild inventions, such as futuristic jumbo jets and speedy flying taxis.

While these dreamy inventions are sure to hit the headlines and cause a stir, the more recent innovations that are transforming aviation are more discreet. Passengers are unlikely to notice them during their flight, but they’re happening all the time.

Usually, the most significant changes occur within the cabin to make flying more comfortable for customers. Many also involve making flying more environmentally friendly for the planet.

In 2020 we look forward to seeing many new aircraft innovations that increase the comfort and efficiency of plane travel. Keen to hear some of the best? Read on for Eight new aircraft technologies that will impact aircraft and safety of flight soon.

1. Garmin Auto Land

Autoland might save an awful lot of lives. Garmin, instead of just showing pilots where they’re headed, has automated the landing function of aircraft (Piper M600 and Cirrus Vision Jet are first certified)  Autoland system can take over all the controls and autonomously land a plane without any human intervention. Once activated (it can also be manually deactivated at any time, according to Garmin) the Autoland system assesses the plane’s situation including its location, fuel levels, nearby terrain and obstacles, and the weather, and then intelligently determines which of the closest airports would be ideal and able to accommodate the aircraft for an emergency landing. Other factors like the length of available runways at the airport are taken into consideration, but Garmin also specifies that “The availability of a GPS approach with lateral and vertical guidance to the runway is also required when the system is considering various airports and runways.” So even if a single small airstrip is the closest place to land, it might not be a viable option as the Garmin Autoland system requires the same infrastructure found at larger airports that commercial autopilot systems also rely on for automatic landings.

2. ECOS Baggage System

This may be a simple aircraft innovation, but anyone who hates the headache of dealing with hand baggage on crowded flights is sure to appreciate it.

As frequent flyers know, getting everyone’s cabin bags safely stored in the overhead bins can take ages. Baggage capacity will always be a proverbial nightmare, especially if you’re looking for a spare spot for your bag if you’re one of the last to board.

Sometimes other passengers fail to pack their bags into the slots properly too.

To help with this issue, a company called Zodiac Aerospace has designed the ECOS Baggage System. ECOS stands for Efficient Cabin, Open Space.

With this system, there’s a green light above each locker door. When there’s space available, it lights up. When it’s full, the light goes out.

Although essential, this simple system increases capacity and speeds up boarding too – so you can reach your destination as quick as possible.

3. The Airbus ReTrolley

Everywhere you go nowadays, recycling is becoming more and more of a focus. The same goes for airplanes, where waste disposal is a big hassle on board. Often so much rubbish goes straight in the bin and is wasted.

All that’s about to change with the Airbus ReTrolley: not only does the garbage system recycle passenger’s trash as crew pushes it through the cabin, but it’s also half the size of a regular trolley. That means plenty of extra space is available in a compact area.

There’s a handy foot pump that compresses larger items, and separate sections for organic and liquid waste.

4. Lower Deck Pax Experience Modules

One of the new aircraft designs is the introduction of Airbus’ Lower Deck Pax Experience Modules.

The notion suggests that the cargo containers stored underneath the passenger cabin can be exchanged with other modules that fit the same size and loading system. These can include cozy lounge areas or quiet zones that welcome economy class passengers.

The modules should be available to airlines in 2020 for the A330 and possibly for the A350 later.

5. UV-LED Water Disinfection Unit

In 2020 new airplane technology includes the UV-LED Water Disinfection Unit designed by Diehl Aviation.

Water disinfection is a retrofit antibacterial water filter for onboard lavatories, making the tap water safe to ingest. That means passengers are free to drink the water as they please or to use it to brush their teeth and freshen up mid-flight.

The system is based on UVC LEDs, which is a compact and robust technology featuring low power consumption. It can be easily installed close to or directly into the faucet.

The unit works to eliminate germs efficiently, and Diehl claims the nifty tech kills at least 99.99% of bacteria. Those sound like good odds to us.

The technology is also maintenance-free, and the lifespan offers more than 10,000 operating hours, making it a substantial investment for any aircraft.

6. Active Noise Control Technology

For optimum comfort and peace during flying, Panasonic introduces the Active Noise Control technology provided for business class seats. Noise control is all part of the company’s Wellness solution.

This airplane innovation technology features built-in active noise control, which works without the use of headphones. Less noise means business and first-class passengers are provided with a more comfortable and restful snooze during long-haul flights as the background aircraft noise is lowered.

Passengers can also choose from calming music or bird noises to help them nod off mid-flight.

7. Nanoe Air Filtration System

Another aviation innovation part of the Panasonics Wellness initiative is the new Nanoe air filtration system.

This technology can be integrated into the passenger seating structure of any first or business class seat. The goal is to combat surface viruses, bacteria, mold, pollutants, and allergens in the air. Air filtration results in new and improved air quality for passengers, without any unpleasant odors.

8. Enclosed Suites

For Emirates, the first-class suites on its Boeing 777-300ERs are getting an even more luxurious makeover. The cabins have been fitted with enclosed suites, offering the luxurious atmosphere of a private jet.

The new additions include a ‘zero-gravity’ comfortable seating position inspired by NASA and nifty new technological features, including a video call system so passengers can reach the crew at their beck and call at any time.

Emirates has even considered the unfortunate souls that are stuck in the center suites without the pleasure of gazing out of the windows during the flight. Virtual windows are fitted for the middle passengers, displaying a live feed showing the outside environment, so every suite is lucky enough to have a window view.

Excited by These New Aircraft Technologies?

While it seems we won’t be welcoming jet-powered backpacks or sky-high Uber planes any time soon, these new aircraft technologies are sure to improve the comfort and efficiency of plane travel. This goes for the passengers, the airlines, and the environment.

Want to learn more about current airline innovations? Check out the five new aircraft designs that have everybody talking.