Boeing has patented a design for an airplane that can pick up and carry containers in its belly, Popular Mechanics reported.
In the patent, the plane is able to lower itself onto a row of standardized shipping containers, grab them and take off with the cargo.
While trucking, shipping and rail have embraced the intermodal container and its cost savings, the aviation industry has not been as accepting of the technology.
“The inability of modern aircraft to efficiently transport a large number of intermodal containers has significantly limited expansion of aircraft transport. It should be noted that transportation not only includes carrying the intermodal containers to new locations but also loading and unloading the containers into aircraft. At the same time, new business strategies [e.g., just-in-time supply] and globalization of markets have created a strong demand for faster shipping, which often cannot be addressed by ships, trains, and/or trucks, yet demands lower costs, which cannot be realized using modern aircraft,” according to the patent.