It might be the wildest aviation idea since Da Vinci's flying machine, but the detachable plane cabin might also be more than an awesome and radical breakthrough in technology; it might be able to save lives. And in case you haven't yet heard what a detachable plane cabin is, the name should be an indicator, though I can't blame you if it lets your imagination run wild for a moment.
So, what exactly is it? For starters, it got put on the map by Ukrainian inventor and aviation engineer Vladimir Tatarenko, who worked in special commissions for Antonov, an aircraft manufacturing company in Kyiv. Tatarenko often worked on the scene of accidents, where he says he started thinking about human error and the extent to which they lead to accidents.
"Looking at these horrible scenes and knowing the statistics of crashes, I came to certain conclusions," Tatarenko told Ukranian news outlet, ain.ua. "People are wrong about air disasters, because some 80 percent of them happen due to human error."
The engineer and inventor received a patent for the novel idea that involves parachutes, a detachable plane cabin, and an increased chance of a safe landing in the event of an accident. If an emergency landing was needed, a pilot could push a button that would release the cabin from the rest of the plane. The design does not yet have a safety provision for the pilot.
When the cabin detaches from the plane, parachutes would launch, and inflatable tubes on the bottom of the cabin are also part of the design. Sounding like a scene straight out of a James Bond film, the parachutes would automatically open once the cabin was ejected, aiding the cabin to safety on ground or water. And of course, as people would not just be concerned about their safety, the cargo is also taken into account, with the current design reportedly including a spot for the luggage, at the bottom of the cabin.
Of course there are some critics and many on social media who are understandably skeptical of such an idea. Some main points include the fact that in the absence of a pilot or someone to steer the cabin in a particular direction, the cabin could in effect land anywhere, and could possibly hit buildings or even mountains if the plane was flying over such terrain. Other comments mention a predictable hike in cost and amount of fuel needed, as well as the plausible idea that such additions could weaken the airframe because joints and fittings would separate what was once a solid fuselage.
Plane crashes, while not a common occurrence, sadly happen yearly. There were 137 plane crashes in 2013, 122 in 2014, and in 2015, there were 121 crashes with 898 reported fatalities, according to the Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives. And the idea of a detachable cabin could be solution to the dangers that come with airplane accidents.
Since the idea is still in the design phase, it is still too early to say whether the design is feasible or just a fantasy, but the idea is definitely intriguing.