The Clip-Air project proposes a revolution with implications that extend well beyond the air transport sector. It transforms our entire conception of aviation as we know it today, the configuration of our airports and opens the door to combined transportation of passengers, freight, and renewable fuels (for example liquid gas). It could forever change the way we travel by air.
Towards multimodal transport
Clip-Air combines the speed of air transport with the accessibility of rail transport, two factors that strongly influence our transportation mode choice. Using modular capsules, the system can be extended beyond aviation by transferring the very same capsules to trains, trucks, or boats. The dimensions and weight of the capsules, 30 meters in length, weighing 30 tons, make it compatible with today’s railway infrastructure. Passengers would be able to first board and disembark from the capsules directly in their companies, and later in train stations, harbors, and airports. Each of these places would have to be redesigned. The diversification of the boarding gates would require restructuring checkpoints and waiting areas in airports, benefiting the passengers.
In the Clip-Air project, operational costs are decoupled: pilots are associated to the wing, while the cabin-crew operates in the capsules. Maintenance costs would drop as well, because a single wing can carry the same number of passengers as three A320s, with only half as many engines. Additionally, storing the capsules consumes less space, and technical controls would no longer delay boarding into the fuselage.
Another one of Clip-Air’s many objectives is to increase cabin occupancy. Today, cabin occupancy varies between 65 and 85%, depending on the company. Clip-Air can land with 150 passengers and take off again with 450, or the other way around. Depending on the cabin occupancy, a single flight could transport passengers and cargo.
More efficient flight management
By relying on a modular system, planes would no longer have to fly round trips between two airports, even if that means flying back almost empty. And by transferring capsules using other means of transportation, costs could be further abated.
A smaller energetic footprint
By improving demand management, increasing the occupancy of planes, and being built around a novel energetic concept, Clip-Air addresses environmental issues and could provide pathways to significantly reduce the energy footprint of the aviation sector. An initial series of studies has demonstrated Clip-Air’s potential in terms of transport capacity. But Clip-Air’s ambition envisages alternative fuel sources that are less polluting than those used today.