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Boeing’s Unique Plane Design

The Boeing Company, the American multinational corporation which is among the largest global aircraft manufacturers, has recently received a patent for a strange and unique airplane design. The design features an airplane which is capable of lowering onto shipping containers, at which point, the aircraft then locks the containers into place. The unorthodox design is equipped with a broad fuselage which opens underneath the airplane for the shipping containers to slot into. The landing gear of this unique design is wider than the shipping containers.

Cargo airplanes which are currently operating typically do not use the standard intermodal shipping containers which you can commonly see on cargo trains as well as cargo ships. Rather, freight carried on airplanes are transported using the unit load device (ULD) system. This system divides cargo into smaller containers, which are then placed onto pallets for transportation in both standard passenger aircrafts as well as cargo airplanes. Boeing’s unique design would allow for transportation via air freight in standardized containers in order to expedite the shipping process. Boeing’s design also allows the aircraft to carry more cargo.

“The aircraft may transport standard 20-foot or 40-foot containers or lighter versions of such containers that otherwise have the same form and features as the standard intermodal containers,” the patent states. “The intermodal containers may be loaded through an opening in the bottom of the fuselage. Specifically, intermodal containers may be arranged into a row. The aircraft may be then rolled over this row of containers and lowered onto the containers followed by engaging container corners.”

An aircraft which can lower its entire body, then lift more than 12 shipping containers would require a significant amount of design work and testing in order to accomplish. Only time will tell if Boeing decides to further pursue this patent design.

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