Cargo containers are as universal as trade itself, finding their way onto trucks, freight trains, and ocean-going vessels. 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 would feature a 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.
For more of the Popular Science story, including sketches: www.popsci.com