Pod Planes and Pods on Planes

Pod Planes

What on earth is a Pod Plane you ask? An intriguing concept for aviation transport. Clip-Air is the company who designed the aircraft in the picture you see below.
Their idea is to borrow the integration that the the railway companies use for trains and use it to revolutionize aviation. The three pods in the picture above are akin to the shipping containers on trains that roll up to a train station as you can see in the graphic below. Beyond that, according to Clip-Air, "Using modular capsules, the system can be extended beyond aviation by transferring the very same capsules to trains, trucks, or boats. The dimensions and weight of the capsules, 30 meters in length, weighing 30 tons, make it compatible with today’s railway infrastructure."
Imagine airports completely changing in functionality. Maintenance of the actual flying portion of the aircraft would be completely separate from loading/unloading and internal cleaning. The pilots are seperate from the passengers which eliminates the issues with fallible cockpit door security. The pods can be all different sizes as seen below to maximize profitability.
The pods are transported from rail to flying wing by a transfer carriage seen below.
Airlines can partner with each other to compose a total of three pods per flight, as having three pods on the flying wing is the most economical set up. Clip-Air's flying wing concept is not far along enough to know exactly how much fuel would be used, but the company is exploring alternative fuel options. Additionally, the pods themselves can be filled with fuel. So theoretically, the transport could fly anywhere in the world without stopping. The pods can of course be of mixed purpose like the picture below with part cargo/part passenger loads.
The company has also conceptualized smaller flying wings for small GA airplane replacement and for business jet purposes as seen below.
Clip-Air proposes to increasingly advance their design and build up to the three pod wing and perhaps even using a "large Clip-Air wing as a launch pad for rockets carrying small satellites into orbit." 
Clip-Air readily admits to being "an exploratory project, and as such it is seeking to open new avenues of thought, regarding both the concept of commercial aviation and the use of existing technology, in order to fundamentally rethink tomorrow’s means of transportation."

According to a CNN article whose writer consulted an industry expert, Addison Schonland, the chances of this concept being a reality are "rather slim." The entire system that is in place now would have to be revolutionized which would cost a lot of money, not to mention acceptance by the public, aircraft manufacturers, airports, and more. Schonland stated that, "...if the concept is ever to take off, I would see it working for cargo first."

Airbus has a single photo on their website page for the "Future of Airbus" for the aircraft pod concept. I'm not sure if this was posted before or after Clip-Air's website launch. There is also an article one Wired.com about Airbus proposing the pod plane idea written in November, 2015. 

Pods on Planes

A company called Windspeed Technologies LLC has created a pod that sits on top of a conventional aircraft. They have named this pod the "SkyDeck" and it is so cool. There are a few conception videos on YouTube featuring the SkyDeck, here is one:

How amazing would the view be from 30,000 feet on top of an airliner or business jet?

From their website brief, it appears they have thought of everything from drag interferance with the rudder to condensation/fogging issues on the pod windscreen. Just last month in May of 2016, Windspeed announced that, "A major Boeing supplier and Windspeed will jointly offer the SkyDeck to high-end aircraft owners and airlines." 

So, coming to an airport near you!

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