These are 12 of the strangest patents ever created for aeroplanes

For those of us who can’t afford to fly in a private jet, or even business class, getting on a plane is often a pretty unpleasant experience

Squeezed into a big metal tube, shoulder to shoulder with a stranger, flying isn’t most people’s cup of tea.

But, though you might not think it, aeroplane manufacturers are always trying to make flying more comfortable and efficient, and are constantly creating patents for potential new innovations.

Airbus is far and away the biggest creator of new patents, and in October it was reported that a spokesperson told the Daily Mail that the company files more than 600 patents a year.

Some will go into production, but most will never see the light of day. Many are completely wacky, and would require some serious technological innovations to come close to being viable, but some are more likely than you might think.

A jet that can cross the Atlantic in less than an hour


This patent, approved in August 2015, would allow passengers to travel from London to New York in around an hour, smashing the previous record held by Concorde, which could do the trip in around 3 1/2 hours.

Airbus's patent describes the plane 'an air vehicle including a fuselage, a gothic delta wing distributed on either side of the fuselage, and a system of motors able to propel the air vehicle.'

The jet would use three different types of engines which would launch the craft vertically, before powering it up to speeds in excess of 3,000 mph. Pretty speedy!

A cockpit without any windows


This patent, filed by Airbus in 2014, would completely redesign what the modern aeroplane cockpit looks like. Pilots would use a digital display to see their surroundings, removing any need for windows.

While the images included with the patent show a cockpit in the nose of the plane, it is possible that it could be moved to the back of the plane, or under the cockpit, which in turn would allow plane noses to be longer and more aerodynamic.

Sleeping pods in the style of a Japanese hotel


Not being able to lay down is a frequent complaint for long distance travellers who cannot afford to fly business class, but this patent from September 2015 could get rid of that problem.

The sleeping pods for economy passengers would allow you to lie down and get a good flight's sleep, although sitting up could be a bit of a problem.

The patent filing states that passengers would still be required to buckle up at take-off and landing, and more importantly, still be served meals.

Seats which force you to talk to your neighbour


This is a design by French firm Zodiac for a more efficient and space saving seating plan on planes.

The HD31 is said to offer four more inches of legroom, and 15% more space between seats. That might not be worth it given how awkward staring at your neighbour for hours could be.

A backpack designed to let you get a good flight's sleep


Created by Boeing, this patent for what the company calls a Transport Vehicle Upright Sleep Support System, is essentially a backpack attached to a standard aeroplane seat.

The idea behind the system is to let passengers get some sleep by leaning forwards and sleep on their face and chest, and is said to be far superior to using a neck pillow in order to sleep.

Not quite as ingenious as Airbus' solution to sleeping in economy, but this one could work.

Some seriously uncomfortable looking seats


Probably one of the least fun patents on this list, these bicycle style seats were patented by Airbus in 2013, and look like they would be incredibly uncomfortable. There are no backrests or tray tables, and very little legroom.

Airbus seems to acknowledge that the seats would be awful to sit in, but argues that the reduced cost of a short flight would make the pain worth it, saying in the filing 'this reduced comfort is tolerable for passengers in as much as the flight lasts one or a few hours.'

Seats laid out to look like bunkbeds


These seats, featured by Business Insider earlier this week, would create a two tiered seating system in business class, allowing airlines to achieve maximum use of space. The seats were just one of a number of new layouts featured in a patent created by Airbus at the start of October.

Seats on the upper level would have to be accessed by steps and would allow passengers to enjoy what is essentially a flying bunk bed.

Business travellers, who tend to enjoy having their own space, might not necessarily approve of this new design, but for fitting lots of people into the plane, this one could have legs.

A doughnut shaped aeroplane cabin


Ever dreamt of flying in a round plane? Well this design, filed with the European patent office, would allow you to do just that. if the plane ever came to production, Airbus would be fundamentally changing the way we fly.

The ring shape is said to be able to accommodate more passengers than a traditional plane, and the plane's 'flying wing' design, believed by designers to be the best shape for aircraft, would allow more speed and better fuel efficiency.

It does have its drawbacks though, and getting passengers on and off the 'flying doughnut', as well as refuelling, could prove tricky.

Virtual reality helmets to stop people getting too bored on long flights


We've all been bored on a plane, but another patent from Airbus could solve that problem.

Virtual reality helmets at every seat would, according to the patent, give passengers 'sensorial isolation with regard to the external environment.'

The helmets feature headphones and an 'opto-electronic' screen to let passengers watch movies and listen to music.

Smart windows with touchscreens


Boeing's 787 may already have windows that can be dimmed or brightened, but this Airbus patent goes a step further and creates an interactive window, described as a 'method for interactive visualisation of information in an aircraft cabin'.

The patent doesn't specify exactly what the windows would be capable of doing, but according to the Skift they might allow passengers to learn all about landmarks you are flying over, and play music, all with a few taps on the window.

A trapdoor designed to keep terrorists at bay


In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, ensuring planes could not be hijacked was at the forefront of aircraft designers minds. This patent, filed by Airbus in 2002, introduced a trapdoor just outside the entrance to the cockpit.

The trapdoor could be opened by the pilots if they saw imminent danger, and would lead into a security cell below where the terrorist or attacker could be held until the plane reached safety.

A hypersonic space plane that will change the 'economics of space'

Reaction Engines

This one is not technically an aeroplane, more a spaceship, but its so cool we just couldn't leave it out. Designed by Reaction Engines, a British company part owned by BAE systems, the jet, known as Sabre, is a described as 'hypersonic'.

First seen at the start of November, the Sabre jet would be able to accelerate to five times the speed of sound (roughly 3,800 mph) in the atmosphere, and orbital velocity (equivalent to nearly 20,000 mph) in space.

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