A groundbreaking pilotless cargo plane, known as the "Droneliner," is poised to take flight by the close of this decade, according to sources.
Mike Debens, the design coordinator of this futuristic aerial vehicle, envisions it as "the most exciting new airplane since the jumbo jet,” according to The Sun.
Debens describes the Droneliner as an immense aircraft, projected to be the heaviest globally, capable of carrying the weight of a jumbo jet within its cargo hold. Its substantial size is complemented by formidable power, facilitating the efficient transport of substantial cargo quantities.
The potential applications of the Droneliner are extensive, especially in the realm of online shopping, where delays often frustrate customers. Debens emphasizes the aircraft's impact on expediting goods transportation, particularly during winter when perishable items like blueberries or crayfish are sourced from distant locations.
The Droneliner aims to significantly accelerate the flow of goods, addressing challenges associated with lengthy shipping times.
However, the ambitious project is not without hurdles. Debens acknowledges the substantial cost involved, estimating it to be several billion dollars to bring the aircraft into operation. The Sun reported.
Safety concerns also loom large, considering the presence of a massive unmanned aircraft in the sky. To mitigate this, Debens proposes restricting flight paths to avoid residential areas, opting only to land at ex-military airports or those airports no longer in use.
One distinctive feature of the Droneliner is its incorporation of "driven wheels," marking a departure from conventional cargo aircraft design.
These wheels, akin to those found in electric vehicles, contribute to quicker takeoffs. Debens said.
The rectangular shape with smooth edges deviates from the cylindrical design of traditional cargo planes, aiming to optimize loading capacity. The company asserts that this design modification not only reduces delivery time but also slashes air freight costs by an impressive 70%, according to The Sun.
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To enhance fuel efficiency, the Droneliner will utilize lightweight plastic and vinyl containers, weighing 80% less than traditional metal counterparts.
The aircraft boasts two models: the DL200 and DL350. The DL200 can accommodate up to 40 lightweight containers with a maximum payload of 200 tons, while the DL350 is designed for 70 containers with a maximum payload of 350 tons.
The autonomy of the Droneliner enables swift loading and unloading processes, eliminating the need for a cockpit or pressurization on board. Furthermore, the aircraft's front and back can be opened, facilitating the seamless rolling of containers in and out.
In comparison to Boeing's 747-8, one of the largest operational planes, the Droneliner surpasses payload capacities significantly. The DL200 exceeds the 747-8's capacity by 63 tons, while the DL350 more than doubles it.
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