Last updated: 10:33 PM ET, Thu November 26 2015

Airbus' Latest Patent Could End The Boarding Process As We Know It

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | November 26, 2015

Airbus' Latest Patent Could End The Boarding Process As We Know It

Image courtesy of Airbus

What if you could board an airplane before you actually board an airplane?

You know how it is now while waiting to board a plane.

You’re sitting at the gate for God knows how long. Then the herding process begins as gate agents begin to board those who need help and families with small children and first-class passengers. Then they call out different zones and sectors of the plane to board. Of course, that doesn’t mean anything to the ticket holders in Zone D – they still crowd the gate area even though Zone A has been called. and Zones B and C are up next, making the process even more cumbersome.

Once on the plane, there’s the ritual of finding your seat, stowing your carry-on, or trying to find room for a carry-on if you’re among the last to board

French airplane manufacturer Airbus thinks it has a solution, although it would actually take the design and construction of a brand new aircraft in addition to its original idea about cabin seating.

According to Wired, Airbus has patented a design for a removable cabin module – or, as others have called it, a shipping container – to help speed the boarding process and make it easier.

Here’s how it would work and, trust us, we understand the execution of the idea would be enormous but the concept is kind of revolutionary. Once everyone has arrived at the gate and the time for boarding has arrived, there will be no herding to the plane and long lines in the aisle.

Passengers will be directed to removable cabin modules which, according to the patent, are designed “comprising a floor, an upper aircraft fuselage portion connected to the floor, and a first and a second end wall, wherein the first and second end walls, the floor and the upper aircraft fuselage portion form a cabin for transport of passengers, luggage, freight or combinations thereof.”

In other words, a detachable cabin where passengers can be seated first, then brought to the plane. Basically, you’re being asked to enter what looks like a typical cabin except it doesn’t have a roof. That’s because once you’ve been seated in your removable cabin module, it will then be lifted or transported to the plane, and placed into the fuselage of the aircraft just like putting shipping containers onto a large ship.

“Passengers could be pre-seated in cabin pods before the plane actually arrives, ready for integration on the aircraft, saving time and making processing much simpler,” Airbus said in its patent request.

We know what you’re thinking – how will the plane fly? Fabulous question.

As Wired noted, it’s difficult enough to expect a complete overhaul of airport terminals to pull off such a feat, but you’re also talking about a whole new kind of commercial aircraft where the top of the plane comes off.

Or, it would have to be a variation of this cargo-style aircraft.

But there’s no doubt it’s an interesting concept.


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