It's never easy to forecast exactly what the future of global freight will look like and air freight falls under the same mystery but a new patent from Boeing suggests that a unique air cargo aircraft specifically designed for standard containers could be an option one day.
Cargo containers are a standard of the industry for global freight movement by sea, rail and road but imagine if there was an aircraft purpose-built to transport the most urgent containers around the world. That's exactly what the patent proposes and perhaps the ambitious design will come to fruition over the coming years.
Typically containers have been designed to be stacked like lego which has been ideal for container ships and rail cars but never well matched to the cylinder-shaped aircraft fuselage. The patent shows a plane which would collect containers lined up in a single row and the drop the body of the aircraft over the cargo to enclose all of them.
Another interesting feature is that the planes would operate at a lower altitude of less than 20,000 feet so that the cargo doesn't require to be pressurized. Such an idea if it is to be realized could provide the ultimate in urgent air freight services allowing multiple containers to be shipped at a speed previously unheard of. We'll wait to see if this idea takes off in the years ahead.