Clip-Air project envisages modular aircraft you can board at a railway stationSubmitted by Bob-45 on Wed, 06/12/2013 - 22:59
By David Szondy
June 11, 2013
Air travel today is a nightmare of long drives to crowded airports, long queues that move at a snail's pace, and long, boring waits in identical lobbies drinking overpriced coffee. It would be so much easier and less frustrating if catching a plane were like catching a train. If Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) has its way, its Clip-Air project will one day produce modular aircraft that will allow you to board a plane at a London railway station and disembark in the middle of Rome without ever setting foot in an air terminal.
Under development since 2009, the Clip-Air project aims to merge the speed of air travel with the flexibility of rail transport. Airplanes are specialized vehicles made for particular tasks, so a passenger plane can’t be used as a cargo plane without extensive modification. On the other hand, a train is a collection of modules with a locomotive “module” providing propulsion. Put passenger cars behind a locomotive and you have a passenger train, put goods wagons there and you have a goods train. You can also add specialist cars, such as buffet cars, sleepers, guards vans, tankers, ore carriers, car carriers and many more.