Modern commercial aviation is really safe. But things could always be safer. Right? That’s the thinking behind an odd-looking plane design. It was dreamed up by Vladimir Tatarenko. It was posted on YouTube. He was reported to be a Ukrainian aviation engineer. The design is for a detachable airliner cabin. It would fall away from the wings, engine and cockpit. It would fall away in case of an accident. It could land safely. It would land with parachutes. Critics say the design would be very costly. But the idea of parachuting away from certain doom no doubt appeals to nervous flyers.
Tatarenko’s detachable cabin is far from the only wild plane design to come about in recent years. Here are some of the strangest aviation ideas in recent history.
In 2015, Airbus filed a patent. It was for a design of a double-decker cabin seating arrangement. Passengers would literally sit one on top of the other. The upper-tier passengers would climb steps. Or they would climb a small ladder. This is how they would reach their seats. It was referred to as “mezzanine seating.” The inventors claim it “still provides a high level of comfort for the passengers using the seat arrangement.” Those of us who routinely fly economy class may argue with the word “still.” The design does have some benefits. At least some of the seats would be able to recline to 180 degrees. But the idea of climbing a ladder during turbulence seems shaky.
Detachable Cabins for Fast Turnaround Times
This patent was awarded to Airbus. It is also for a detachable cabin. But it is different from Tatarenko’s. The Airbus idea is for efficiency. It is not for safety. Passengers could simply board a ready cabin. They would not have to wait for a flight to arrive. They would not have to wait for others to get off. And they would not have to wait for the plane to be cleaned. It would be snapped into the plane’s body as soon as it was ready. The cabin would be detached again. This would happen for people to get off quickly. This would happen when the plane reached its destination. There would be different cabins with different kinds of seating. There may be different levels of luxury. These could be used for flights of different lengths or destinations.
Airplane noses should be long. They should be pointy. This is for ideal aerodynamics. But there’s the whole “pilots have to fit in the cockpit” problem. What if the cockpit didn’t have to go in the nose of the plane? That’s part of the thinking behind this Airbus patent application. It proposes replacing the plane’s windshield. It would be replaced with a digital viewing surface. Without a windshield, there’s no reason the cockpit needs to go in the front of the plane. It could go in the belly of the plane. It could even in the tail.
Airbus isn't the only company in the strange patents contest. Boeing’s got its own. It’s a doozy of an entry. It was filed in 2013. Passengers looking for a nap can find an “upright sleep system.” It is tucked into a backpack. It is beneath their seat. The system includes a head cushion. It includes a chest cushion. There are slings. These support the arms. These are all attached to the seat with straps. It allows the passenger to recline leaning forward. The whole thing somewhat looks like a traction device for someone who’s been in an accident. But we won’t knock it until we’ve tried it. It can hardly be worse than those inflatable doughnut-shaped pillows.