A Detachable Airplane Cabin and Other Strange Aviation Ideas

A recently unveiled concept for a removable, parachute-equipped airplane cabin is only the latest in a long line of far-out designs

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Modern commercial aviation is incredibly safe. Despite several high-profile disasters, including the deliberately crashed Germanwings plane, the bombed Russian charter jet and the caught-on-video Taiwanese take-off accident, 2015 saw an accident rate of one in 5 million flights, according to aviation industry analyst Flightglobal. If you exclude the premeditated crashes, the Aviation Safety Network would call it the safest year for aviation on record.

Still, things could always be safer, right? That’s the thinking behind an odd-looking plane design, which has been making the media rounds lately. Dreamed up and posted on YouTube by Vladimir Tatarenko (reported to be a Ukrainian aviation engineer), the design is for a detachable airliner cabin, which would fall away from the wings, engine and cockpit in case of an accident, landing safely with parachutes. While critics say the design would not be cost effective, the idea of parachuting away from certain doom no doubt appeals to nervous flyers.

Tatarenko’s detachable cabin is far from the only wild plane design to emerge in recent years. Here are some of the strangest aviation ideas in recent history. 

Double-Decker Seating

In 2015, Airbus filed a patent for a design for a double-decker cabin seating arrangement. Passengers would literally sit one on top of the other, with upper-tier passengers climbing steps or a small ladder to reach their seats. Rather euphemistically referred to as “mezzanine seating,” the inventors claim it “still provides a high level of comfort for the passengers using the seat arrangement.” Those of us who routinely fly economy class may quibble with the word “still.” While the design does have some advantages—at least some of the seats would be able to recline to 180 degrees—the idea of climbing a ladder during turbulence seems shaky. 

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