This shipping industry has proven difficult to streamline quickly but it seems that Boeing may have some distinct ideas that could accomplish exactly that. The aerospace giant received a patent in December of last year for an airplane designed to lift and carry more than a dozen shipping containers. Boeing holds many patents that have the potential to change both travel and shipping and this one is no different.
The design is somewhat reminiscent of the way that unmanned drones are used to carry items underneath themselves while flying. Companies have proposed the use of these unmanned drones for mail and package delivery so it is easy to see where the base of Boeing’s idea has originated.
Boeing often secures patents to ensure priority over an idea that they may not plan to move on in the immediate future but the impact that this specific design could have on the shipping industry is certainly interesting.
The large shipping cargo containers that people are used to seeing carried by large ships and train cars are currently not used in air transportation. These standard cargo containers are too large for both cargo and passengers planes and a system known as the unit load device (ULD) is used to pack smaller containers with cargo for air transportation.
Boeing’s new airplane would be designed with a wide fuselage underneath the plane capable of opening and then locking onto a shipping container as the plane is lowered from above. This specific design would make it possible to use standardized shipping containers in air freight and allow planes to transport greater amounts.
Exactly how this airplane will be able to lift off and then perform a landing while carrying standardized shipping containers is not exactly clear but if anyone can pull this off it would be Boeing. The company has proposed that this new airplane could lift more than a dozen shipping containers by rolling over an arranged row and securing the corners of each one. A plane that can do this will need ample testing and troubleshooting so it is unlikely we will see a working prototype anytime soon.