US 3696890 A
An aisle delivery system operable in limited traffice areas such as the passenger aisle in a commercial aircraft, said system permitting delivery of food and beverages by placing trays on pallets pivoted to a bracket depending from an overhead carrier which moves along a conveyor track fixed to the upper part of the fuselage. Means are provided to immobilize the overhead carrier at selected positions along the conveyor track, and a universal joint is provided between the bracket and the overhead conveyor to counteract angular flight changes. Junction means connect the main conveyor track to branch tracks which lead to service areas or the like.
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Armstrong  ARTICLE DELIVERY SYSTEM  Inventor: Gilbert Armstrong, 5N 432 Neva Terrace, Itasca, 111. 60143  Filed: May 5, 1970  Appl. No.: 48,772
Cahn ..198/177 X 1451 Oct. 10, 1972 FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS Primary Examiner-Harvey C. Homsby Assistant Examiner-Merle F. Maffei Attorney-Dominik, Knechtel & Godula I 5 ABSTRACT An aisle delivery system operable in limited traffice areas such as the passenger aisle in a commercial aircraft, said system permitting delivery of food and beverages by placing trays on pallets pivoted to a bracket depending from an overhead carrier which moves along a conveyor track fixed to the upper part of the fuselage. Means are provided to immobilize the overhead carrier at selected positions along the conveyor track, and a universal joint is provided between the bracket and the overhead conveyor to counteract angular flight changes. Junction means connect the main conveyor track to branch tracks which lead to service areas or the like.
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IN VENTOR Gilbert Armstrong ARTICLE DELIVERY SYSTEM This invention relates to a system for delivering articles in limited traffic areas; and particularly relates to a system for delivering food and beverages along the passenger aisle of commercial aircraft. The system will, however, be usefully adapted to other limited traffic areas for delivering articles other than food and beverages. I
The problems associated with the delivery of articles in limited traffic areas will be particularly emphasized in association with commercial passenger aircraft, and the embodiments illustrated will be represented in such an association. It should be appreciated, however, that the features and elements of the system will be readily operable in other limited traffic area environments, such as delivering components to industrial assembly lines, institutional kitchens, and the like.
The problems associated with dispensing food and beverages on passenger aircraft are well known, and such problems become most serious on the shorter flights. Scheduled flights of l or 2 hours are characterized by harried efforts by two or three stewardesses to serve as many as l passengers with food and beverage. The limited traffic area of the aircraft compounds these problems because the stewardesses interfere with one anothers functions, and increased traffic results from the incapacity to carry more than one or two trays at a time. Too often it becomes a race between the flight arrival time and the removal of trays by the stewardesses. These problems are not entirely removed by the longer scheduled flights since problems still remain in serving a large number of passengers in limited traffic areas. If means are provided to more conveniently service such passengers, the stewardesses could be available for other personal attention and service to the passengers. The time involved in serving beverages and food could be markedly reduced to suit the convenience of both the passengers and the stewardesses.
The long flight schedules will have an additional problem upon the advent of the very large carrier jets. Passenger loads will substantially increase which will create even greater burdens on the personnel in attendance. Not only will greater number of personnel have to be devoted to servicing passengers food and beverages, but such greater numbers of personnel will be subjected to the same harried experiences. A system or assembly which can meet and overcome many of these problems would be awelcome contribution to this art.
It is accordingly one important object of the present invention to provide a system or assembly for delivering articles in a limited traffic area by improved means which provide the use of an overhead conveyor and movable carriers, together with a pallet bracket in which one or more pallets are pivotably mounted to the bracket.
It is yet another important object of the present invention to provide a method or assembly for delivering articles more speedily in a limited traffic area such as a passenger aircraft, without presenting problems in the handling of such articles or presenting any inconveniences or hazards to the passengers.
It is still yet another important object of the present invention to provide a method or assembly for delivering articles in limited traffic areas along a principal path, or providing means for joining branch paths to said principal paths to connect service areas or the like to the principal path.
It is another important object of the present invention to provide a method or assembly for delivering articles in limited traffic areas with improved provisions for immobilizing a movable carrier along a fixed path by selective stopping means which can be quickly actuated and easily released.
Still yet another important object of the present invention is to provide a method or assembly for delivering food and beverages in limited traffic areas such as passenger aircraft, or providing improved means in a movable carrier to counteract angular movements of the aircraft during flight. Such objects have for their purpose to prevent scattering of trays laden with food and beverages in the event the aircraft executes banking movements or the like.
Yet still another important object of the present invention is to provide a method or assembly for delivering articles in an improved way in a limited traffic area by providing means in a movable carrier which will automatically lead to immobilization of said carrier in the event the carrier escapes control of an operator.
The foregoing objects are attained together with still other objects which will occur to practitioners from time to time in considering the following disclosure of the invention, which includes drawings where:
FIG. 1 is a partial top view, in highly diagrammatic form, of a passenger area in a commercial aircraft, showing the aisle delivery system;
FIG. 2 is a partial top plan view somewhat diagrammatic, of the junction means, illustrated in a smaller scale in the view of FIG 1, for connecting the principal path or conveyor track to branch paths or tracks leading to service areas; I
FIG. 3 is a sectional view taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is an enlarged view of the overhead conveyor assembly, and a portion of the overhead track fixed to an upper portion of the fuselage;
FIG. 5 is a bottom plan view of a portion of the overhead conveyor track showing a member operable to immobilize the movable carrier.
FIG. 6 is a sectional view along line 6-6 of FIG. 4, with portions removed;
FIG. 7 is a top plan view of a pallet or support mountable on the movable carrier shown in FIG. 4;
FIG. 8 is a front elevational view of the pallet or support shown in FIG. 7-,
FIG. 9 is a sectional view, with parts removed, taken along line 9-9 of FIG. 7;
FIG. 10 is an exploded view, partly in section, and with portions removed, of the pivot assembly of the pa]- let or support to the bracket; and
FIG. 11 is an elevational view of an alternative embodiment of a bracket and pivotable pallets or supports mounted thereon.
Referring to the diagrammatic showing of FIG. 1, a passenger area in a commercial aircraft is indicated. The area has a passenger aisle 12 and rows 14 of three seats on one side of the aisle; and rows 16 of two seats on the other side of the aisle. A service area, such as a bar, is designated by 18, and another service area, such as a kitchen, is designated by is designated by 20. All the foregoing features, or obvious modifications, are conventional in commercial aircrafts.
The system or assembly of the present invention is indicated diagrammatically in the view of FIG. 1, and includes. an overhead conveyor 22 which is fixed to an upper part or roof of the fuselage structure. A movable carrier is generally indicated at 24, such carrier being mounted to the overhead conveyor. A plurality of branch tracks 26 are shown as curvilinear connections to the principal overhead conveyor 22. The branch tracks lead to the service areas 18, 20. The branch tracks are connected to the principal track 22 by a junction disc 28 which rotatably joins the respective branch tracks at separate times, to the principal track.
The features of the junction disc may be better understood by reference to the views of FIGS. 2 and 3. The junction discshave the plurality of arcuate track sections secured to the underside of said disc. The arcuate connecting sections are illustrated in the form of l-beam members to which further reference will be made. Arcuate connecting section 30 joins main conveyor 22 to branch section 26.which leads, for example, to the kitchen service area. Clockwise rotation of the illustrated junction disc would move arcuate connecting section 32 to join main conveyor-22 to branch section 26 which, for example, also leads to the kitchen service area. Continued clockwise rotation of the junction disc 28 would move arcuate connecting section 34 so that it joins main conveyor 22 to branch section 26 which permits conveyance to, for example, the bar area, disposed on the other side of the passenger aisle 12. The arcuate sectionsmay be variously fastened to the under side of the disc member, and such junction disc 28 is pivoted at 35 to means suchas a stationary plate 36 which may be secured to an upper part of the fuselage structure. Various means may be provided between the disc member and the stationary plate 36 to releasably fix a particular rotated position, such as a small protuberance and recess combination indicated at 37. The disc may be manually rotated by grasping its circumferential edge, or other remote or motorized means may be provided.
Referring now to FIGS. 4-6, the overhead conveyor is shown as an I-beam elongated member 38 which has an upper flange 38a, and intermediate web 38b and a lower flange 380. The upper flange may be variously fastened to the upper fuselage structure 40, by means such as nut and bolt assemblies 42. Affixed to the bottom flange 38c is an elongated locking ridge 44 which has a plurality of spaced and aligned locking apertures 46. The locking ridge may be variously fastened to the bottom flange such as by a bolt fastener shown at 48. The operation of this locking ridge will be later described.
The overhead conveyor or track 38 defines a path for a movable carrier indicated generally at 50. The overhead carrier has an upper housing 52 with opposite walls which have rollers 54 rotatably mounted on roller shaft 56 fixed to such walls. The rollers are adapted to engage the top surface of bottom flange 38c. In a similar manner, a lower set of rollers 58 are rotatably mounted'to lower roller shaft 60 which are fixed in the opposite walls of the upper housing 52. The lower rollers are adapted to engage the bottom surface of the bottom flange 38c.
The upper housing contains an assembly which cooperates with elongated ridge 44to permit selective immobilization of the overhead carrier. This assembly includes a channel member 62 which has raised and tapered sides 64 in complementary relationship with the opposite side of the elongated ridge 44.
A locking peg 66 is movable through an opening 67 in the bottomof upper housing 52, and through an opening 68 in the channel member 62. The peg is normally biased upwardly by a spring 69 which has one of its final opposite turns urged against the bottom wall of the upper housing, and the other final turn urged against stop member 70 which is intercepted by a part of the channel member 62. The top of the peg engagesv the face of the elongated locking ridge 44 when not immobilizing the overhead carrier, and the top of the locking peg engages one of the locking apertures 46 when immobilizing said overhead carrier.
A lower carrier housing 72 is secured to the upper carrier housing by means suchas bolts 74. An opposing crossrod 76 extends between opposite side walls of the lower carrier housing, and flexible connecting cable 78 is joined to the bottom of the locking peg, turns around said opposing crossrod and passes out of the lower carrier housing. The flexible connecting cable is sheated within a cable covering 80 which extends through rigid tube pusher 82. The flexible connecting cable passes out of the tube pusher 82 and is joined to handle 84 at connection 86. Handle 84 is joined to the tube pusher 82 by a pivot 88, and actuation of handle 84 moves locking peg out of engagement with one of the'locking apertures 46.
The bottom wall of the lower carrier housing has a threaded stub which is fastened thereto by means such as welds 92. An upper connecting nut 94 joins a threaded portion (not shown) of a universal joint 96. The details of the universal joint will not be described since they, as such, do not comprise an essential part of the invention. It is sufficient to note that a variety of widely known useful universal joints may be employed such as the ball and socket type. The bottom of the universal joint also has a threaded portion (not shown) to which a lower connecting nut 98 is engaged, such nut also engages threaded portion 100 of an offset pallet bracket 102.
The offset pallet bracket is an elongated member which is illustrated as tubular. The pallet bracket is provided with a lateral branch 104 and a depending branch 106. A plurality of pivotable pallets 108 are shown mounted to the depending branch 106. The pivotable mounting is attained through a plurality of lateral support members 110 which extend from the pallet bracket. Each of the lateral support members has a passageway 112 which receives a pin 114, said pin having an aperture 116 to receive a locking element, such as a cotter pin (not shown). The edge of each pallet, which adjoins the pallet brackets, is provided with a pair of ears 118, each of which has a passageway 120. The ears extend from a block 121 positioned on the pallet along the edge adjoining the pallet bracket. The pin 114 passes through the passageways 120 and ears 118, as well as through passageway 112 in lateral support member 110. This completes the pivotable linkage of the pallet to the pallet support.
The pallet or support is shown with opposite sidewalls 122, each of which has an upper inturned lip 124 and a rear retaining wall 126. The pallet has a C- shaped floor member 128 which has a substantially central opening 130 at the front edge which is opposite the edge pivotably mounted to the pallet bracket. A plurality of straight runners 131 extend between the front and back edges of the floor member 128. A tray 132 is introduced onto the pallet from the front edge which has the central opening 130. Such trays are usually provided with raised peripheral edges 133, and such peripheral edges slide under inturned lips 124 at the opposite sides to cage the tray within the pallet and thereby counteract any easy slippage of the tray from the pallet.
The opening 130 in the front edge of the pallet permits the pallet to be raised through the lateral offset branch 104 of the pallet bracket. This is desirable where the plurality of pallets are positioned fairly close to the lateral offset branch to conserve the available vertical distance between the overhead carrier and the lowermost pallet.
The pivot assembly between the pallet bracket and the pallet could be so arranged that when the pallets are raised they remain in raised position until manually forced down to article-holding position. This may be attained by simply providing sufficient friction in the pivot assembly so that it retains its position 'to which it is manually moved. Other arrangements are possible.
The alternative embodiment illustrated in FIG. 11 provides a linear, elongated pallet bracket 134, having an upper connecting nut 136 positioned for connecting a universal joint 138 to the pallet bracket by way of lower connecting nut 140. The bracket is mounted to a movable carrier of the type previously described. This embodiment features aligned pairs of pallets, such as pallet 142 on one side aligned with pallet 143 on the other side of the bracket. Pallet 142 is pivotably mounted by pivot assembly 142a to the bracket; and pallet 143 is pivotably mounted by pivot assembly 143a to the bracket assembly. Pallets 143 are shown in raised position, that is, following dispensation of the articles held thereon. Pallets 142 are laterally extended in article-holding position. The universal joint in this and the previous embodiment is particularly useful in maintaining the pallets level in article-holding position during angular changes in the flight of the aircraft. The aircraft can, accordingly, moderately climb, descend or bank for turns without causing slippage or scattering of the articles or trays supported by the pallet.
The claims of the invention are now presented.
What is claimed is:
1. An aisle delivery system for a commercial passenger aircraft, including an overhead track conveyor secured to the upper part of the fuselage in the passenger area,
a roller carrier mounted on said overhead track conveyor,
an elongated pallet bracket extending from said roller conveyor,
a tray holding pallet pivotally mounted to a lower part of said bracket, said pallet extending laterally at a right angle to the elongated bracket in tray holding position and pivotable to a raised position following removal of the tray,
means to selectively immobilize said pallet bracket at one of a plurality of positions along staid track conveyor, said means providing an in er ock element mounted in the roller carrier and urged against said track, said track having a plurality of linearly aligned means engageable by said interlock element to provide a plurality of locking positions,
a substantially rigid pusher member fixed to the roller carrier, said pusher member extending to a convenient grasping position, and
a release means mounted on said pusher member and connected to said interlock element for disengaging said interlock element from one of the plurality of locking positions.
2. An aisle delivery system as in claim 1 above, wherein said track is linear, and further including junction means for connecting said linear track to a selected non-linear branch track.
3. An aisle delivery system as in claim 1 above, further including a universal joint connecting said pallet bracket to the roller carrier to counteract displacement from changes in level flight of the aircraft.
4. An aisle delivery system as in claim 1 above, wherein the pallet has been raised and inturned lips at the opposite edges thereof to cage food and beverage trays placed thereon.
5. An aisle delivery system as in claim 1 above, wherein the means to selectively immobilize said pallet includes a plurality of linearly aligned openings in said track, said interlock element in said overhead carrier being normally biased against said elongated member to thereby engage one of said openings to lock and immobilize said overhead carrier and pallet bracket, said release means disengaging said element from said opening to advance said overhead carrier along said path.
6. An aisle delivery system as in claim 1, wherein said pallet bracket is an offset elongated member having a lateral branch and a depending branch, and said pallet having an opening at the edge opposite the edge pivoted to the bracket so that said opening permits passing of the offset branches therethrough when the pallet is raised.