After flying cars now also flying trains?

Author: Mario Schmidtgen
Date: 13.07.2018

French engineers are working on transportation of the future

Flying cars are no longer a dream, although it will certainly take a few more years until they are actually seen on the road every day. But the engineers of the French technology company Akka are already thinking ahead: their vision is to bring even trains in the air. In a video of the company one can get a first insight into how the idea should be implemented.

“After the development of the autonomous electric cars, it is time for the next major revolution of planes,” says Maurice Ricci, Akka manager. The service provider is available for their customers for all questions relating to aviation and rail transport. The “Link & Fly” concept is all about flying trains, which are primarily intended for the US market.

And the idea of “Link & Fly” is not as strange as it may sound at first: travelers do not have to drive to the airport before departing, but board at the next train station directly into an aircraft cabin on rails. The cabin goes fully automated to the airport, where it is equipped with a module with wings and engines. As soon as both parts are connected, the flying train rises into the air. Once the train has landed, it takes off from the flight base and continues its journey as a rail vehicle to the terminal station.

However, the idea is not that new: Already in the 1950s, the US Air Force worked on a cargo aircraft, which had a removable cargo hold. But only one prototype of this Fairchild XC-120 was built. Some years later, Swiss engineers worked on the construction of so-called “pod plans”, as they call this type of cargo planes in English.

By removing the seat rows, a cab can also change to a cargo hold in the “Link & Fly” concept. However, the focus is on the transport of people: Around 160 passengers should be able to travel in a “airtrain”. This is about the size of a short-haul Airbus A320. Whether the idea is actually implemented at some point is still questionable.

But that’s probably not even the goal of Akka. “Our role is to demonstrate tomorrow’s technologies to our customers” says Ricci. The “Link & Fly” concept is intended to act above all as an eye-catcher in the US market, and thus draw new customers’ attention.

For now, “Link & Fly” is just a vision of how the future might look like. To what extent the concept will be implemented will become apparent in the future.