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ARLINGTON, Va. -- AstroSphere Airways announced here today that it will add to its fleet of aircraft what are essentially passenger trailers that will be towed behind specially equipped airplanes. Each Trairler™, as they are called, can be arranged in a number of configurations to carry as many as 148 passengers plus a cabin crew of four.
In information made available to the media, AstroSphere notes that Trairlers, which are based on Boeing 737B airframes, have no propulsion, flight or navigation systems of their own and need nothing more than electrical power to control the flight surfaces, landing gear and cabin environment. Both electrical power and flight control signals to the Trairlers are sent through the towing cables of the host aircraft.
According to sources close to the company, the Trairler concept has been under development for the past four years and has recently completed test flights in South America. Flight tests are now underway in the U.S. and FAA certification is expected in the next few months.
Ronda Fleading, spokesperson for AstroSphere, said at the press conference here today, "Operating with only minimal equipment and having no fuel or flight crews aboard a Trairler will vastly reduce both our fixed and operating costs. By being able to add a Trairler to a flight that shows early booking popularity, we expect to accommodate more passengers and at the same time cut the average cost per passenger mile by close to forty percent." (Average cost per passenger mile is the industry measurement for efficiency.)
Fleading noted that because the airline anticipates a reluctance of some passengers to fly in what is little more than an unmanned glider, it will offer incentives such as free movies and drinks for those who select to be seated in the Trairler compartment.
AstroSphere expects to have 60 Trairlers introduced into service by the end of the year.
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