It sounds like something from a futuristic sci-fi film – a train turning into a plane to speed up the boarding process at the airport.
But this is exactly what Akka Technologies chief executive Maurice Ricci is pitching to Boeing and other major airlines, according to Bloomberg.
The French entrepreneur, who has made millions by connecting engineers with industrial groups, has developed Link & Fly, a new flagship aircraft concept, with wings that come off to hasten turnover at airports. He claims it will make boarding easier.
The futuristic concept will have passengers board a train-like tube at their local train station, where their retinas will be scanned for security during the ride to the airport. Wings would then be attached to the pod for take-off.
Similar to the Airbus A320 in size, the Link & Fly will carry 162 passengers, or seats can be removed for freight instead.
“After cars go electric and autonomous, the next big disruption will be in airplanes,” Mr Ricci said in an interview in Paris.
He said the company’s 3D mock-up video (seen above), also gathered interest from potential customers in Asia.
How technology is changing the airline industry
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen technology companies come up with disruptive ideas for plane makers.
Chinese plane builder Comac is developing its own fleet, and could turn to the European aeronautics ecosystem for technology partners.
Uber announced in May it would open its first research and development centre in Paris to focus on building flying cars.
Chief executive officer Dara Khosrowshahi said in an on-stage interview in May the company was no longer about cars, it was focusing on urban mobility.
“It includes cars, carpool, electric bikes and flying cars we hope,” Mr Khosrowshahi said.
Google’s co-founder Larry Page is developing Kitty Hawk, a startup that’s creating a battery-powered single-person plane.
While Boeing recently announced its personal flying device competition, GoFly Prize, which aims to make travel fantasies of effortlessly soaring through the skies come true.
US market hopes
Akka generates 75 per cent of its sales in France and Germany and became more dependent on auto manufacturing with the takeover of a Daimler engineering unit about seven years ago, according to Bloomberg.
The company hopes its new concept will impress new aeronautic customers in the US. The purchase of Texas-based engineering firm PDS Tech in June was a first step.
Mr Ricci said he expected the acquisition to close in three to six months.
“Planes need to become more efficient, less polluting and less noisy,” Mr Ricci said.
“Our role is to point our customers to technologies of the future.”