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Airbus patents modular cabins that turn planes into trucks

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Flying coach in commercial airliners is already a fairly miserable process, but it can seem like aircraft designers are bent on making the experience even worse. Manufacturer Airbus' latest patent, approved yesterday after it was applied for in 2013, proposes a modular cabin into which passengers can be seated before their plane even arrives. That cabin would then be attached to the plane after the previous module was removed, cutting down the time it takes to prepare planes for flight, and assisting in airlines' desperate bids to cram more humans into narrow metal tubes thousands of feet in the sky.

The patent filing describes a removable cabin module, "comprising a floor, an upper aircraft fuselage portion connected to the floor, and a first and a second end wall, wherein the first and second end walls, the floor and the upper aircraft fuselage portion form a cabin." The document says the cabins could be modified "for transport of passengers, luggage, freight or combinations thereof." As shown in the accompanying pictures, in Airbus' model, airplane fuselages become trucks, pulling up at airports to get their next container of people, before taking off again.

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The patent might not ever make it into real airplanes

While being dropped onto a pair of wings like a Lego brick before being launched into the sky won't appease the minds of nervous flyers, Airbus' latest patent is at least more humane than the one it applied for in October, which saw passengers stacked on top of each other in a writhing mass of humanity in order to save space. Airbus isn't even the only company trying to test its evil science on airline passengers. Zodiac Seats France showed off a hellish seating arrangement earlier this year that supposedly maximized space in economy class by flipping the middle seats around, making passengers to face each other, and forcing them to stare into their seat neighbors' eyes while their hands are jammed against their butts.

For the moment, thankfully, all of these concepts are just at the patenting stage — there's no guarantee that they will ever actually make it into a real-life airplane. But know that as you read this, somewhere inside Airbus and Boeing headquarters, hooded figures are already designing the next stages in passenger innovation. Electrified seats, perhaps, or a new method of forcibly folding the human body into smaller and more convenient shapes. Until then, cherish your long security lines, frequent delays, and uncomfortable flights.