Air Transport World

JAL's cabin concepts. (Japan Airlines)

Very often, the most exciting car at an auto show is the one that never has been seen on a public street. It's a "concept car," a vehicle built by the designers to demonstrate the latest features that they are proposing for their cars of the future.

Japan Airlines is displaying what might be called a "concept airliner." The concepts are presented in cabin mockups, aircraft models, videos and printed materials.

The futuristic aircraft is only one component in a vision of air travel in the year 2020--the forecasts of JAL's 21st Century Future Technology Committee. Since it began work in 1989, the committee has conjured up an entire air/sea/land port city, built on an island, with highly automated systems for each aspect of airline operations, from baggage handling to maintenance to passenger ticketing.

Proving that Japanese industry can have a flair for the lyrical, the committee calls these crystal-ball studies JAL Romantech, a merging of romance and technology. …

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