Airbus wants to reinvent the wheel, or rather, the loading docks of airplanes. According to the schematics of a recent patent the aircraft manufacturer filed, a proposed redesign would see passengers preloaded into a cabin that is then lowered into the bed of a plane. Think of it like trucking, where the cargo is interchangeable — only the cargo is people and the truck is a commercial airplane.
According to the patent's description of the design, "the cabin forms part of a removable cabin module, which is in a state of separation from the aircraft, and docked to a docking module external to the aircraft during the transfer. ... The invention thus enables the payload to be transferred independently of the aircraft."
But wait, there's more. "The aircraft can then be used for other purposes during the transfer. In particular, it is not necessary for the aircraft to be immobilized on the ground during this transfer."
Here's how it would work, according to the patent's first six design figures.
Airbus' patent was filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Feb. 28, 2013 and published on Nov. 24, 2015, so it's unlikely we'll be seeing these designs come to life anytime soon. But if they are eventually developed, the efficiency of the design may help to expedite air travel.
"The patent doesn't say how much time would be saved by these processes, but presumably it would be a few minutes at least," Ars Technica UK reported, pointing instead to what may perhaps entice the airline industry to take a serious look at this design.
"Turnaround time is one of the main limiting factors on how many flights can be flown each day: if an airline could squeeze in another flight, or even just reduce the number of late-in-the-day flights being delayed, that would be a huge deal."