Call it “airplane in the round.”
With its latest patent application for a new plane, Airbus has proven once again that it considers just about any wacky idea thrown out by its design team worthy of a patent.
In the new filing, Airbus proposes an airplane with a radical seating scheme that arranges passengers in a circle.
This new seating scheme has a purpose (other than being ideal for in-flight acoustic concerts or poetry readings). According to its patent application, Airbus says that traditional airplanes — where passengers sit in rows in a cylindrical tube — come with a big design flaw: when the cabin is pressurized, it puts a lot of stress on the plane’s front and back. That requires weighty reinforced frames and limits the number of people you can fit on an airplane.
The circular design, Airbus theorizes, would eliminate that problem by redistributing that pressure much more efficiently. Plus, it would allow airlines to fit even more paying passengers on an aircraft (the hearts of every major U.S. airline exec just skipped a beat).
Airbus has repeatedly told Yahoo Travel that all of the strange airplane ideas it’s tried to patent lately — including proposals for windowless cockpits, benches instead of seats, and virtual reality helmets for each passenger — are just that: ideas, which may never see the light of day.
But this new proposal has sparked even more ridicule than most. The Financial Times calls it a “flying doughnut.”
And we suspect being arranged in a circle inside an aircraft moving forward may cause some fliers to get disoriented (if you can’t handle being on a backwards-facing seat on a train, this plane may not be for you).
Still, this idea may not be so bad. Even though the plane in this new design resembles a stealth bomber, its circular seating arrangement may be the prelude to something truly awesome: flying saucers.
At the rate they’re going, Airbus may soon patent that idea as well.