Ian Dryburgh, founder of Acumen Design Associates, appeared on the BBC's Inside Track news program to discuss aircraft seating innovation. This was a great chance to introduce a wider audience to the industrial design involved in aircraft cabins, and to offer a little insight into how they work.
January 24, 2017 – The Crystal Cabin Awards – often referred to as the “Oscars” of the aircraft interiors industry – are approaching once again. The shortlist for the 2017 awards – the 11th year of the event – has just been revealed by organizer Hamburg Aviation, and it boasts 85 applicants from 21 countries, with aircraft manufacturers, airlines, suppliers, engineering firms and universities all in contention for prizes.
The applicants are vying for prizes across eight awards categories: Cabin Concepts; Cabin Systems; Electronic Systems; Greener Cabin, Health, Safety and Environment; Material & Components; Passenger Comfort Hardware; University; and Visionary Concepts. The full list of shortlisted entries can be found below.
The Cabin Concepts category is of particular interest in this year’s event, as the latest business class products from US airline rivals Delta and United are in contention for the title. The Delta One Suite, being introduced on the airline's A350s, offers enclosed suites for every business class passenger, while United’s Polaris business class boasts an innovative LOPA that combines direct aisle access with cabin density. Other business class contenders in this category include Qantas, with its A330 Business Suite, and Hawaiian Airlines with its Premium Cabin.
Below: Delta's enclosed business class suite is impressive, but it faces stiff comptition from United's innovative Polaris rival
Flexible seat pitch is trending A strong entry from the aircraft manufacturer’s side is Bombardier’s C-Series cabin concept. This B737 and the A320 rival is claimed to offer outstanding in-flight comfort to all passengers, regardless of the seating arrangement, and the first examples were delivered to launch customers Swiss Air Lines and Air Baltic in 2016.
Meanwhile Airbus has developed an innovative seating rail concept called Smart Cabin Reconfiguration (pictured below), designed to allow crew to adjust seat pitch in the cabin based on reservations for a particular flight. The advantage for the passenger is that when a flight is not fully booked, the last row of seats can be folded away and the remaining rows pushed back further, giving passengers more legroom.
Little luxuries Sometimes it’s the small things that make all the difference to the flying experience, and there are several innovative concepts on the shortlist that could make flying more attractive. For example, Vision Systems has developed a window that doubles as a touchscreen, projecting information about the flight directly on to the window surface.
There are also several innovative headrest concepts for long-haul flights, such as the successful Kickstarter project, FaceCradle, which can be used to gently support a weary traveler’s head from all sides.
Sustainable ideas The shortlist also includes 'green' ideas for aviation, such as an innovative and environmentally friendly aircraft lavatory design from Zodiac Aerospace, and the Re-Trolley from Airbus, which allows crew to sort and compress garbage while they pass through the cabin. Engineering firm Altran has also developed a cabin trolley, a futuristic an autonomous concept that passes through the cabin and serves passengers by itself. Meanwhile, Diehl Aerospace’s Wireless Seat System aids safety on board by informing the crew automatically if any passenger seatbelts are not fastened when they should be.
How it works For each of the eight categories, the 29 international experts on the judging panel select three shortlist entries to become finalists. These concepts are then presented in further detail at a final judging event just prior to Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, where the winners are decided. The winners of the Crystal Cabin Awards 2017 will be formally announced on the evening of April 4 at a gala dinner in the Hotel Atlantic Kempinski in Hamburg.
The judging panel includes representatives of all parts of the industry, including airlines, aircraft manufacturers, suppliers, universities and consulting firms. Members include Adam Gavine, editor of Aircraft Interiors International; Peter Cooke, design manager for aircraft cabins at British Airways; Paul Estoppey, senior director and head of cabin product management for the Lufthansa Group hub airlines (Austrian, Lufthansa and Swiss); Kent Craver, director of cabin experience & revenue analysis at Boeing; Melissa Raudebaugh, general manager for aircraft experience at Delta Air Lines; and Paul Sweeney, program manager for aircraft design & projects at Qantas Airways.
The shortlist Acro Aircraft Seating: Series 6 economy class seat
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