The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has reportedly approved a patent application for a high-capacity, double-fuselage aircraft design submitted by Airbus in October 2008.
The design is unlike anything seen flying the skies today - at least commercially. The closest comparison would be the dual-bodied Bf 109Z "Zwilling" introduced by the German military in the 1940s, but it was never flown.
The Airbus design includes two parallel passenger-carrying fuselages connected by a front lower wing. A rear wing runs over the top of the aircraft and is connected to a turboprop engine that has at least one propeller. The idea of the unique design is to decrease structure weight by reducing wing bending moments that occur on large aircraft. The design could also reduce fuel consumption.
As an Aviation Week report noted, Airbus is comfortable producing common "tube-and-wing" airliners, but every so often lets its designers shine with some outside-the-box thinking, as displayed with this latest design.
An Airbus spokesperson told Air Transport World that the company files more than 500 patents each year. This particular patent was held by Richard Wilby and was issued on April 17. Though it is uncertain the design will see the light of day, it remains an interesting demonstration in invention disclosure - particularly as Airbus looks to grab a larger share of the U.S. aerospace market.