Airbus patents container passengers

The logistics of a passenger plane is complex and can take precious time to load fuel, the catering, to check on some systems, and of course to accommodate passengers. The new patent, however, Airbus aims to streamline all with an original solution.

The European aircraft manufacturer, Airbus has received today the approval of a patent filed in 2013, which provides a very original solution to streamline the boarding of passengers and reduce the overall time of call.

Logistics operations of an airplane of the actual airlines are in fact very complex and complicated and take a long time to be done with best execution and a hitch somewhere in the process can result in a substantial delay and a disservice that hits company image.

The newly patented concept would seek to remedy these limitations by taking a more modular approach to the whole situation. Instead of a single hull, aeroplanes would essentially be built with a hole in their fuselage between the nose cone and the tail section, into which modular compartments could be fitted and removed.

The compartments, which could take on the purpose of a passenger, luxury passenger or freight unit, would be transferred between the aircraft and airport via a docking module, which according to Airbus would (ideally) be integrated into airport terminal buildings.


Such a system would allow passengers to be seated, or cargo to be loaded over an extended period of time while the cabin was docked in the terminal without the need to immobilize the aircraft beyond the time necessary to carry out preflight operations such as refuelling, the cleaning of a cabin, and the execution of routine technical checks. This would dramatically reduce inactivity time, with the effect of increasing the overall number of flights, and therefore profitability of the airline.

Furthermore, the implementation of a modular system would afford airlines an unprecedented level of flexibility in the make up of their fleet. Ordinarily, each aircraft is purpose built to serve as, for example, a passenger or freight service. Therefore, under the current integrated aircraft designs, an airline would have to purchase additional aircraft or make costly modifications to existing units to serve multiple roles.

A modular approach to aircraft construction would allow an airline to switch the purpose of a plane in a matter of hours simply by replacing the cabin, ready to cater to the short term needs of the airline with a level of cost effective efficiency that cannot be matched by single-hull aircraft.

It’s fair to say that such a system would represent a huge leap forward in the commercial aviation sphere. But of course, it’s very early days. The cost of creating and implementing such a system, paired with unforeseen complications in the development process, as well as the significant alterations you’d have to make to current airport architectures, means we won’t be taking a ride in a modular airliner any time soon.


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