Airbus might have uncovered the fastest way to board a plane, and definitely the most creative.
According to Wired, Airbus recently filed a patent for a detachable cabin module complete with floor, walls, seats, and even a cargo compartment that would be lowered to the gate so that passengers could board, stow their luggage, and take their seats. Then, the compartment would be lifted and secured back in the frame of the aircraft itself.
The idea is that when the plane arrives at its destination, ground handlers would remove the compartments so that passengers can deplane and immediately reload new compartments that would already be pre-loaded with passengers and cargo.
This “aircraft pod” concept would save time on the ground and boost the amount of hours that planes could be in the sky. Since planes make no money when they are not in the air, boarding and deplaning are key elements in the effort to reduce the precious turnaround time.
Safety concerns of the individual pods are likely to pose hurdles to the idea’s implementation, as is the necessity to rebuild airports to be able to handle such a module. Of course, entirely new planes would have to be designed to handle these detachable cabins, so we doubt this will ever get off the ground. But the concept is pretty awesome.