Airbus’s notable patents from the last few years reads like a list of failed aerospace Kickstarters: standing-room-only aircraft, bicycle saddles instead of real seats, or VR headsets to escape the awful reality of coach. Is it possible to go more ambitious? Airbus’s R&D department says yes.
A patent filed in 2013 but approved yesterday (and spotted by Wired) sees Airbus improve the turnaround time of planes. Rather than dealing with all that hassle of unloading and reloading passengers and baggage, Airbus simply splits the plane in two: a passenger/baggage compartment, and then the main part of the aircraft that does the flying. It’s like hitching up a shipping container to a semi truck, only in this case the shipping container is full of people, and the semi truck cruises at 30,000 feet.
To Airbus’s credit, this idea would probably improve turnaround time, which it turn would
increase profits make flying cheaper for everyone: the more time the aircraft spends flying, the less money an airline wastes.
But equally, it would require redesigning entire aircraft terminals, buying new fleets of plane, and waiting around while a crane winches you into position—not to mention adding a new and exciting kind of airline accident when the passenger compartment suddenly loses its wings.