The combination of planes, trains and automobiles was a great concept for an ‘80s comedy about the difficulties of travel.
But what if we put them all together? That's the brainstorm behind a mind-bending new aviation concept dreamed up by Switzerland’s Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne. The modular Clip-Air concept plane is designed to fly with one, two or three detachable capsules. They can act as cabins or cargo holds, naturally, but the really cool part is that they are large enough to serve as train cars as well, meaning that in theory they could move from rail to air in, yes, a snap. (You could also drive your car right onto one, which seems like a handy way of avoiding the TSA screening.)
“Passengers might board a capsule at a local bus station and wake up in another city on the other side of the country, or planet, after a road, air and rail journey during which they didn't leave their seat,” according to a CNN report about the Clip-Air pod plane.
If built, the Cerberus-like aircraft would have multiple engines, a top cockpit, fuel tanks and landing gear built onto its flying wing body and empty space to hold up to three capsules with a capacity of 150 passengers each on its underbelly.
As the company seeks industry funding, they are working on a 32-foot prototype drone that will showcase the Clip-Air’s capabilities. Still, no matter how good the prototype looks, some industry experts remain skepical that the Clip-Air will ever take off.
"Although it may be brilliant from an engineering point of view, it is going to be very tough to make it work commercially," aviation insider Addison Schonland told CNN. "It would need to compete with proven and well-established technologies, and, frankly, it is dubious whether the market will be ready for such a radical new concept, even in the long term.”
We don't know about the market, but we're ready. Let's make it happen.