Watch: Nuclear-powered flying hotel would be able to stay in flight for years
A nuclear-powered flying hotel with the ability to stay airborne for years at a time could change the face of travel – that's according to those who want to turn a futuristic concept into reality.
The high-flying "Sky Cruise" is a gigantic airplane constantly on the move – with up to 5,000 guests arriving by passenger planes that dock on it in the air.
The designers believe the vehicle would be able to stay in flight for several years at a time with nothing more than a small nuclear reaction powering the engines.
Guests who think landing on an enormous, moving plane is a good idea would then be able to enjoy more than just a film or two on a tiny screen – promised luxuries would instead include a 360 degree panoramic platform and an entertainment deck.
The designers claim shopping malls, gyms, swimming pools, restaurants and bars, theatres and cinemas would also be on offer for passengers.
There would also be capacity for business events, meetings and even a venue for getting married in the air – if guests manage to make it on board.
And passengers would simply be able to board a flight that would take them back down to Earth if they decided to check out a nearby destination.
It's the brainchild of Berlin-based science enthusiast and video producer Hashem Al-Ghaili, who has created what he says is a realistic vision of a fantastical idea that was originally conceived by concept artist Tony Holmsten.
The 3D model of the plane is based on an earlier design by Holmsten, which was then set to a video showcase to show how the idea would work in reality.
Explaining the idea, Al-Ghali said: “I believe the current flying experience has become tiresome and outdated, and it's time for new innovations that can make our flight experience more comfortable.
“Hence, I imagined a world where flying from one place to another turned into a joyous experience rather than fighting for leg space.”
'The future of flying'
Reaction to the concept has been mixed with some sceptical and others happy to buy into the prospect of a nuclear-powered plane drifting around the sky for years on end - regardless of the practical limitations.
As ever, Twitter was full of those ready to praise and pick holes in the concept.
One person wrote: “The future of flying is here. It has a hotel, spa, swimming pool, elevator, sports centre, a mall and much more.”
Another added: “I think Sky Cruise sounds cool as hell. I want to die a glorious death as the Sky Cruise drops thousands and thousands of feet into the endless blue ocean below.”
Others praised it for its “fascinating features”…
'No understanding of aviation'
While some were hopeful that the design can become a reality, most people took an altogether more pessimistic view – mainly concerning how the plane would need to defy the laws of aerodynamics.
One person wrote: “Sky Cruise is a concept with no understanding of aviation, flight cycles, aerodynamics, maintenance, airport infrastructure, size to weight ratios, drag and lots more!”
Another added: “I don't think they've even realised that each wheel of the landing gear is, if you take the scale of the decks literally, bigger than a house. Just zero effort went into this thing, there's no specifications or anything.”
One person simply tweeted: “I've got a physics degree, and let me stop you right there.”
But Al-Ghali is insistent about the feasibility of the idea, and believes it could become a reality before 2040.
He said: "It's nice to see people point out the flaws of the design and attempt to propose solutions to them, which is what we need to make it more perfect. It's like a group of people working together on a single project…
"I would go for 2030s or 2040s at latest for possibility of Sky Cruise. All we need is sufficient energy for the take-off. That's why nuclear energy was part of the design.
“I believe it's a matter of time before powerful nuclear reactors become small enough to fit inside a plane that size.”