A new patent filed by airplane manufacturer Airbus turns passenger cabins into cargo containers, designed to be inserted and removed as a whole from the vehicle.
Using a docking module, the removed unit would then be transported across the runway and to the airport for passengers to board. Once everyone is in their seats, the cabin would then be taken back to the aeroplane and slotted into place, ready for take off.
“In addition, the boarding method makes the presence of waiting rooms in the aircraft building superfluous, and thus makes possible substantial economies in terms of area,”according to the patent filing. It all makes some intuitive sense, for flyers as well: might as well be seated in advance rather than waiting in the airport.
Aside from that more obvious application, however, the modularity could lend itself to other benefits, including the ability to reconfigure the interiors of planes on demand or over time, by adding or removing seats, lounges or other spatial features. Alternatively, the removed units could tie into other transit systems, becoming cars of an inter-terminal train or even an extra-airport transport truck, following the lead of containerization in the cargo shipping industry.