A GIGANTIC pilotless plane “as tall as a house and as long as a football pitch” could be in the skies by the end of the decade – but it won’t fly over land.
The design co-coordinator of the world’s heaviest aircraft – dubbed Droneliner – has told The Sun of his hopes for the futuristic robo-plane.
Plans for a huge pilotless plane called Droneliner have been unveiled[/caption]
The plane will be as tall as a house and as long as a football pitch[/caption]
The aircraft could change the game when it comes to online shopping and could mean customers will be able to receive their orders from across the globe lickety-split.
Delays in delivery can wreak havoc for impatient shoppers waiting for a prom-dress or a birthday gift to arrive – but the end of this frustrating fiasco may now be in sight.
Droneliner is so huge it can carry the weight of a jumbo jet in its hold and promises to make light work of transporting large amounts of cargo.
The plane is three times more powerful than a Boeing 747 and will be able to cross a third of the planet in one go – if it ever reaches the skies.
It was designed in the UK and is a remotely piloted global air freight system that carries 40 or more lightweight 20ft shipping containers.
Design coordinator Mike Debens told The Sun “It’s the most exciting new aeroplane since the jumbo jet,” but estimates it will cost several billion pounds to get it airborne.
Not only will Droneliner revolutionise the world of fashion but also the world of food.
Mike said: “In winter, if you want, say, blueberries or crayfish or something, It has to come from the other end of the world.
“And it usually comes in boats and takes weeks to get here so it [Drone liner] just really speeds up the flow of stuff.”
He added: “It’s [Drone Liner] is the height and width of a house and the length of a football pitch.
“It’s huge. It will be the heaviest plane in the world.”
Mike expects the plane to be in the sky “by the end of the decade” but explained that these things don’t “happen overnight.”
Droneliner appears to have all bases covered when it comes to safety and the designer understands “you can’t ask people to put up with 600 tons of aeroplane flying over their house with no one on board.”
He said: “So, when we began this project the first thing was safety. Are we going to kill anyone?”
The huge aircraft will not fly over land or populated areas and “bans itself at the outset from flying over your home.”
It will also only land at ex-military airports or airports no longer in use.
The designers believe the plane has got the “wow factor” and is a real “box of tricks.”
Mike said: “It’s a totally new kind of aeroplane and will be the first in history to have driven wheels.”
He explained: “They’re just like electric vehicle wheels. So all its little wheels will be driving it along which gets the airborne quicker.”
One of the most obvious differences between Droneliner’s autonomous cargo plane and existing options is the shape.
Instead of the usual cylindrical body, it has a rectangular one with smoothed edges and is specially designed to transport containers rather than people.
This means that no space is wasted when loading it to capacity.
The company claim to not only reduce delivery time but also cut the cost of air freight by 70 per cent.
Rather than transporting goods in metal shipping containers, Droneliner intends to use ones made of lightweight plastic and vinyl to save on fuel costs.
When these are empty they weigh about 80% less than standard containers, according to the company.
On its website Droneliner boasts: “Droneliner is designed to be the most fuel efficient long haul cargo aircraft.
“With the greatest ratio of payload to fuel; hybrid systems to support take-off, landing and taxing.”
It also emphasises that the problems with shipping cargo reach far further than slow moving ships.
There are many more obstacles that might delay a boat’s delivery, including vulnerable supply chains and clogged ports.
Recent events have shown how easy it is for supply chains to get blocked or closed.
Pandemics and fears of infection create fragile ecosystems for traditional staffed ports and transport methods.
This can add time and cost to the supply chain.
And, shipping ports are getting busier and more congested as container ships grow in number and in size.
Droneliner has proposed two models of the cargo plane, the DL200 and DL350.
The DL200 will be capable of holding 40 lightweight containers and a maximum payload of 200 tons, while the DL350 will support 70 of them and a maximum payload of 350 tons.
Boeing’s 747-8 – one of the largest cargo planes to ever fly – has a payload capacity of about 137 tons.
The smaller plane will have one turbofan engine, while the larger will have two, but they have the same approximate range of 6,500 nautical miles.
This is more than the distance from Beijing to Los Angeles and one third of the‘s span.
Both aim to be hybrid electric and should be able to use sustainable jet fuels, according to Droneliner.
Because an autonomous cargo plane doesn’t need a cockpit, the front and back of the aircraft can be opened and containers rolled into or out of its body, making for faster loading and unloading.
Having no crew on board also eliminates the need for pressurisation on the plane, further cutting costs and weight.
Droneliner will be three times more powerful than a Boeing 747[/caption]
The aircraft can carry the weight of a jumbo jet in it hold[/caption]