From the brilliant and imaginative minds at Airbus comes a new aircraft concept, in which passenger seats are arranged in circles stemming from the middle of the cabin. The plane itself is shaped a bit like a B-2 bomber, designed in the blended wing body (BWB) style.
On October 30th of this year, Airbus filed a patent application for this conceptual aircraft. The cabin is shaped like a big circle (also known as a toroid) where seats are arranged in circular rows around a central core structure. In one concept, the space inside the core would be used to store luggage and cargo. In another drawing, we see an elevator housed inside the space, which would lower to the ground to embark and disembark passengers. The design can even be scaled up to include seating around three cores, allowing capacity equivalent to today's super-jumbo jets and perhaps more.
Boeing X-48B concept, via Mark Jones Jr. (Flickr / CC Commercial License)
The blended wing body, or "flying wing" concept has been around for a long time. We've seen it used in military design, but it has never made its way to the commercial side. The general idea behind the blended wing body is that because the whole plane is wing-shaped airfoil, the whole plane generates lift, which is hugely beneficial in terms of fuel efficiency and operational range.
Boeing's X-48 concept is designed with this principle in mind, but their design had traditional seat rows spanning from side to side all the way across the cabin. At first thought, no big deal. But it does pose a problem, because the wider your cabin gets, the stronger the supporting structure has to be in the ceiling and floor of the plane. Airbus' design gets around this obstacle by installing what amounts to a support pillar in the center of the cabin.
Seeking your feedback here, what would you call this thing? I've seen it called a "flying doughnut" but that only speaks to the seating arrangement and not its overall appearance. Let us know your thoughts, in the comments below.