Many will think that designing the Airbus A380 was the last time that Airbus considered a double-decker aircraft. However, that’s not the case. In 2013, six years after the first Airbus A380 was delivered, the French manufacturer filed a patent for a double-decker aircraft with two engines. The patent was published in 2015.
Designers are continually designing, and inventors are often innovating. While many ideas may go straight into the bin, every once in a while now sticks enough to make it to the patent phase. Even this doesn’t guarantee that it will be made. Seven years ago, Airbus filed a patent for a double-decker twin-engine plane.
A double-decker with airstairs?
The height of the Airbus A380 means that it would be impossible to unload without dedicated infrastructure at its arrival airport. However, Airbus’ patented concept allows for carrying out passenger embarkation and disembarkation autonomously with no ground equipment.
The sketches that accompany the aircraft show three possible boarding configurations. Firstly, the aircraft is shown with a standard jetbridge. However, rather than docking to the main deck, it is docked to the upper deck. Similarly, with the second example, regular stairs can reach the upper deck but are too high for the lower deck. This allows for the lower deck to have stairs built into the doors, such as is found on some regional jets.
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We recently reported the arrival of the first Boeing 737 with a flexible configuration. However, this is also an idea that is mentioned in Airbus’ patent. The patent stipulates that an object of the invention is to be able to switch the interior space between passenger and cargo space.
While the Airbus A380 has three decks (Main, Upper, and Cargo), this double-decker aircraft would only have two decks. As such, the cargo would share a deck with passengers. However, the aircraft could also be used solely for passengers with hand luggage, or exclusively for freight.
High wing or low wing?
But would such an aircraft have a low or high wing design? It could be either according to the patent. Airbus patented several different aircraft designs. One sees a low wing aircraft that looks like a small 747 with the hump extended to the rear of the fuselage. This has two engines mounted to the fuselage adjacent to the vertical stabilizer.
Another aircraft configuration looks reasonably similar to the first with the engines mounted to the top of the wings, as is found on the HondaJet. Due to the low nature of the aircraft, its engines wouldn’t fit below the wings. One final aircraft design shows the wings mounted to the top of the plane. In this configuration, the engines are mounted below the wing, as is traditional, given the additional space.
Ultimately, it is possible that we won’t see any of these designs anytime soon, as Airbus is not known to be working on such a plane. The patent will expire in the mid-2030s, at which point, anybody would be able to use the ideas.
What do you think of Airbus’ patented design? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!