You step into a train wagon that really is an aircraft body at your local train station. Then, at the airfield, a delta wing is connected – the vehicle is transformed into an airplane and takes off. French “Link & Fly” has already attracted a lot of interest in Asia.
It sounds like something from a Marvel movie, developed by Tony Stark, a plane that lands on a runway, shrugs its wings off, turns into a train and rolls on to rails to drop you off at your local station.
The Link & Fly by Paris based Akka Technologies is a concept that aims to make air travel as easy as stepping onto the subway. The idea is that you head to your local train station when it’s time to fly to another city and a tube-shaped passenger train takes you straight to the airport. The pod then rolls onto the runway, where it is affixed to a pair of wings with a cockpit, and the craft takes off to fly to your destination. Upon landing, the train/fuselage detaches from the wings and rolls out of the airport to local train stations to drop you at a convenient location.
“After cars go electric and autonomous, the next big disruption will be in airplanes,”
– Akka CEO Maurice Ricci told Bloomberg during an interview in Paris.
Akka works with companies like Airbus, Renault, and Dassault in Europe to offer technology solutions for advanced transportation services such as autonomous cars and efficient flight. The Paris-based company recently pitched the Link & Fly concept to Boeing as it seeks to expand its customers in the United States, and Ricci also indicated that the idea has received interest from transportation companies in Asia.
Plane makers have begun to react as technology companies come up with disruptive ideas — from Uber’s investments in flying taxis to Kitty Hawk, a startup backed by Google’s co-founder Larry Page that’s creating a battery-powered single-person plane. Airbus took the offensive with a new division to oversee transport of the future, while Boeing has made a noisy foray into jetpacks.
Akka, which has a market value of €1.1 billion ($1.7 billion) and whose biggest shareholder is Ricci, a French entrepreneur, who’s made millions by connecting engineers with industrial groups, is pitching to Boeing Co. and others.
Akka might not be a household name, but the company is growing — just this year, its stock increased by 23 percent. It’s also been dabbling in forward-thinking transportation tech for more than a decade now. It had a concept for an autonomous car back in 2008 — a time when the idea was just starting to really seem viable.
You probably won’t be able to hop aboard one of Akka’s futuristic planes any time soon, though. According to the Bloomberg piece, the company “[isn’t] banking on convincing a plane maker to necessarily build the entire ‘Link & Fly’ concept,” though Ricci does believe bits and pieces of the design might find their way into commercial aircraft in the future.