Transforming planes into detachable trains

Board a train to the airport, and don't get off until you've flown to your destination.

The EPFL technical university in Lausanne envisions a future where people would "go to the train station to take the plane. Board on a capsule to reach the airport by rail, and then -- without leaving (their) seat -- fly to another city."

Begun in 2009, the "Clip-Air" planes project is still going strong. A new plane design demonstrates how a modular aircraft can have up to three capsules attached to the bottom of the wings -- making air travel more flexible, something researchers say could "revolutionize" the flight industry.

The Clip-Air plane merges rail and air, including a support structure of wing, engines, cockpit, fuel and landing gear, and catering for up to three capsules with a capacity of 150 passengers each. As the plane could carry the same amount of passengers as three A320s with half the engines, the team says the design will also contribute to ACARE's mission of reducing CO2 emissions by 50 percent by 2020.

EPFL describe the project below:

A Clip-Air aircraft could fit in an airport as it is conceived today. With its autonomous capsule, the size of a railroad car -- about 30 meters long and 30 tons heavy -- its design is compatible with rail tracks. Therefore, it could eventually revolutionize airport configuration and multimodal mobility. The boarding of either cargo or passengers in the capsule could be done not only at airports but also directly in rail stations or production sites.

EPFL acknowledges that the project is "very futuristic," but remains confident that it is technologically feasible.

A model of the Clip-Air plane will be demonstrated at the Paris Air Show.

Read More: EPFL technical university

Image credit: EPFL

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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