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Horizons: The planes that can pick up trains

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the plane, which has no wheels or landing gear,

How does it land, then? Because it will have to. Not to pick up the passenger pods, but to undergo maintenance and repair; or to wait out a volcano eruption like the Eyjafjallajökull's. I don't care how it's supposed to operate in normal conditions, an aircraft should always be able to land safely if the circumstances require it.

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I like how their solution to travel snarls is to imagine an unbuildable technological fantasy. That's not very useful. In addition to lacking landing gear, they seem to think it's workable to power a giant plane with batteries that get changed while it's flying. Sure...

The real solution to their problem was proposed decades ago: streamlined transit hubs. The problem is organizational, not technological.

All that said, this thing would look awesome on TV. Gerry Anderson would have loved it.

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Gez said:

How does it land, then? Because it will have to.

The concept art for this new and wonderful planes seems suspiciously similar to an ekranoplane, which can be scaled up to really gigantic scales -halfway between a medium-sized ship and a large freight plane. They are mostly designed to fly at aircraft-class speeds (400+ km/h) near the sear surface (or near flat surfaces, in general) but they can also be scaled up to fly at jet altitudes and speeds (10000+m, 800+ km/h). They can also fly near the ground (ground effect) at relatively slow speeds, which is just what the Horizon is claimed to do for "docking" pods.

Thus, if landing was an absolute necessity, it could always be done on water, by shaping the fuselage accordingly -though not with underhanging pods....ouch.

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Gez said:

How does it land, then?

which has no wheels or landing gear, swoops down at 150mph (240 kph) and is attached temporarily to the SkyLink track using electromagnetic coupling

Emergency and/or maintenance coupling tracks would certainly be a necessity for a system of aircraft that almost never undergo a traditional landing. It sounds like an engineering and air traffic control nightmare, but by 2050, the system will surely be almost entirely automated anyway, like the highways in Minority Report.

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