Boeing patents weird cargo-grabbing plane

in space on (#QB79)
Cargo containers streamlined and revolutionized freight. Their uniform, boxy shape and sharp edges make them instantly stackable, but not terribly aerodynamic. For transport by air, that usually means fitting square pegs into round planes. A new plane design by Boeing, granted a patent this week, could change that. Instead of slotting cargo containers into a round tube, the Boeing plane would line them up longwise in a neat row, then lower its aerodynamic body on top.

The plane as sketched out is largely empty body, with four power prop engines mounted on top of the wings. Its body looks like nothing so much as a giant pink eraser, with a little bubble of a cockpit added to the front. The plane's landing gear are spaced wide enough apart that it can simply roll over its cargo containers before lowering down onto them.

Boeing imagines the plane at operating at altitudes less than 18,000 feet, so that the cargo doesn't need to be pressurized. Boeing envisions such a plane as an alternative to the slow but cost-efficient shipment of low-priority bulk cargo on boats, trains, and trucks, and the light loads of fast but expensive cargo aircraft shipments. By flying shipping containers, a plane like this could deliver large quantities very quickly, where previously price made that impossible.

Where's a Zeppelin when you need one?

Re: Weight balancing? (Score: 1)

by on 2015-10-14 21:00 (#QGCV)

I've always wondered how they did that for shipping cargo, but the more modular your pieces are the easier it becomes as there are more possible permutations. With a cargo container as the smallest block, it becomes more difficult. The giant cargo ships carry so many, that its a bit easier to figureout and some of it probably comes out int he wash. Like trying to balance chicken feathers and eagle feathers, no combination of them is going to break a boat.
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