In 1914, pilot Tony Jannus made history when he manned the first commercial flight in the United States. The trip was short – a 23 minute flight from St. Petersburg to Tampa, Florida. The passenger list was as short as the crew. Abram C. Pheil, the former Mayor of St. Petersburg, was the first paying passenger and together he and Jannus made history.
While the field of commercial aviation is now more than a century old, it hasn’t gone under many big changes, relatively speaking. Once flying became more accessible to the public in the 1950s and 60s, the scene was set for how commercial flights would be handled for decades to come.
Sure we’ve seen some changes in how flights are handled in terms of the customer experience. Perks like remote check-in, being able to download your boarding pass, and now applying for TSA-Pre so you can qualify for a reduced security procedure have each altered the way customers experience flight travel. Still, little has truly changed in terms of how planes look and feel once you pass through the gate.
Say Hello to Clip-Air Fly Pods
This might not be the case much longer. The Clip-Air project is a proposed new design for commercial flights which could make air travel easier, quicker, and even better on the environment. The Clip-Air project is the work of Claudio Leonardi, a well-respected expert in the field of avionics. He and his team – made up of pilots, astrophysicists and engineers – think their approach could be the biggest change in air travel in history.
The idea is as simple as it is revolutionary.
Essentially, planes would be large flying wings that would have passenger capsules which “clip on” to the wings. Detachable pods are more versatile since they don’t have to be loaded at an airport. Passengers could get on board at a local train or subway stop, picking up other passengers along the way before being attached to the wings of the plane at an airport. The pods can also be moved from one mode of transport to another, making cargo flights much more efficient.
In a field where change is about as slow going as the luggage carousel, the opportunity for change is not only timely, it could be immensely profitable. The Clip-Air project is an idea that has attracted worldwide attention, but it may just be the right amount of jolt the aero industry needs to transform more speedily.