If you are at Paris, and bored watching the Boeing 787 fly, or waiting for the Airbus A350 to show up, you could pop along to the Normandy Aerospace stand and check out the Clip-Air concept from EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne).
Clip-Air is a modular-aircraft concept comprising a flying-wing carrying up to three autonomous passenger or cargo capsules that look like airliner fuselages, but are actually railcars.
These capsules would arrive by rail, be attached to the carrier aircraft, flown to the destination airport, and transferred back to the railway to reach their final destination.
Passengers would be able to embark or disembark at rail stations, as well as the airports, says EPFL, and cargo capsules could go direct between production sites and the aircraft.
The capsules are about 30m long and weigh around 30 tons, The Clip-Air flying wing would be able to carry three 150-passenger modules 4,000km - "as many passengers as three A320s, with half the engines," EPFL says.
Begun in November 2010, Clip-Air is a four-year research project involving three labs at EPFL
, which says initial studies have shown the project is feasible. The university plans to fly a 6m-long jet-powered model to explore the concept's flight performance.
You can check out their video: