Airbus patents detachable cabins to seat passengers before plane arrives

Boarding a plane can be a tedious ordeal, but Airbus has come up with a way to make the process less grueling. The company has patented detachable cabins, which would allow passengers to be seated at the gate and then attached to the plane.

The revolutionary idea hinges on a removable cabin module which essentially turns airplane cabins into shipping containers. Each module would consist of a floor, an upper aircraft fuselage portion connected to the floor, and a first and second end wall.

Dubbed the 'aircraft pod concept' by Airbus, the invention would allow customers to be seated at the gate before the plane is even in sight.

“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, as quoted by Wired.

Once everyone is seated, the pod would be lowered into the plane. On arrival at the destination, the cabin would be removed and another would be added, thereby decreasing boarding time and the overall time spent on the ground.

The patent for the modules, filed by Airbus in February 2013, was approved on Tuesday by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

The patent also includes drawings of the docking stations and transport equipment needed to shuttle the cabin containers. But, as Wired noted, this would require airports to undergo a terminal overhaul which seems highly unlikely to happen.

While the idea of shortening boarding times is certainly appealing, Wired also noted that the safety checks ensuring proper attachment of the modules could prove time consuming, raising the question of whether passengers and airlines would truly benefit from the design.

This is not the first outside-the-box idea to be proposed by Airbus. It comes just one month after the company filed a patent for a split-level mezzanine style aircraft, which would see passengers stacked on top of each other in order to maximize space. Last year, the company filed a patent to seat people in a bizarre UFO-like arrangement and to introduce bicycle-like seats which the company itself admitted came with “reduced comfort.”