Our cities are getting denser and denser with the increase of population. Our globalized economies require that more people travel every day domestically and internationally for business and leisure. Demand for air travel is building up like crazy and air traffic is going to be even more crowded in the coming years.
There is simple no more room for new runways on existing airports or new airports infrastructures in our cities. Today's airplanes require just too much space for takeoff and landing operations and this is putting a lot of pressure, not only on airports themselves, but on cities as well, since those infrastructures are very centralized by nature.
Existing airports need to be upgraded and bigger ones require to be constructed very far away from population areas.
The problem with this centralization trend is that we are creating new great sources of congestion by forcing people to move to this places, creating major bottlenecks in all the transportation ecosystem, being mass transit systems, highways, passenger counters, security lines and so on.
Vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft and autonomous systems may be our best bet to solve this problem in the future. A great paradigm shift in the industry will occur once we are able to solve many of the issues that have prevented us by now to be flying in cheap helicopters, like it was suppose to happen as the visionaries of the 50`s predicted.
Instead of centralizing everything on mega-infrastructures far away like today's airports, the intercity decentralized bus-terminal model may be very well suited for our future flights. Just imagine the great benefits in time, and productivity we may enjoy by taking the next flight just as you take the intercity bus.
New technologies in powerful and efficient hybrid gas-electric engines, higher power density motors, lighter energy storage systems, as well as algorithms in collision detection and avoidance, automatic air traffic control, along with modern regulations will be key enablers for this dream to happen.