Some take-aways from the Aircraft Interiors Expo #AIX19
Like every year, the commercial aviation industry descended on Hamburg, Germany, for the Aircraft Interiors Expo, a large industry event that showcases the latest novelties in terms of passenger experience.
What follows is a short recap of some of the novelties that I found of interest in the area dedicated to cabin interiors and seats.
I particularly liked Recaro’s CL3710 seat for economy class, a great example of how not necessarily all the fanciest innovations goes to products for the highest end of the market.
3 Features of this seat hat can make long flights way more comfortable for passengers:
The detachable lateral head rests, which together with the regulable height, could make redundant those soft collars that many travellers take on long flights.
The leg rest, that can be raised or downed depending on the needs of the moment
A detachable soft surface on the back of the seat that can be added to the lower back area, providing extra support
When it comes to business class seats, one of the features that caught my eye is that the CL6710 NG business class seat has a button that lets you heat the seat. The passenger can choose up to three different warmth options.
Not sure there is much need to heat the seat after several hours lying on it, but it is nice to have some degree (pun intended) of control over its temperature.
In the pic below, Recaro’s CEO, Mark Hiller, demonstrates his company’s product.
And also for business class, but usually on single aisle aircraft is Recaro’s CL4710 (below). The cool feature here is the sliding cocktail table (in the middle) that is activated by pressing a button. This seat is currently on use, for example, on Canada’s WestJet Boeing 737s.
Personalized seat lighting
This firm, that currently has its technology on Lufthansa’s A350 fleet, uses the many programmable combinations of light offered by modern LED systems, plus some brain science in order to mitigate tiredness and jet lag during flights.
The novelty here is that, Jetlite and Recaro have developed a solution to bring personalized lighting to business class seats. So, each business class passenger will have, in its seat cocoon, the type of light that best matches his profile during the time of the flight (for example, it varies whether it’s a morning or a night type of person, etc.).
In order to best benefit from this new feature, passengers will need to provide some parameters to the airline (or to Jetlite) before the flight, for example, through a mobile app.
For more details about Jetlite, you can check this piece I wrote for CNN in 2017 about the challenges of providing a great passenger experience on ultra-long haul flights.
Airbus Airspace Cabin Concepts
A couple of interesting things at Airbus’ booth that caught my attention, mostly related to different options that are being rolled out (or will be soon) within the Airspace cabin brand or Skywise digital platform.
1) The smart overhead bins
These overhead bins have sensors that let crew know which ones are empty, full, or half-full. In fact, it is not just crew, but the lights of different colours give the situation away!
2) New business class concept
The sofa-like set up you see in the picture below is a new business class seat concept that Airbus is pitching to airlines (no known takers so far).
It is a low-tech, lighter approach to business class that does away with all the complicated mechanical and electronic mechanisms that are usually found nowadays on business class seats and that help regulate the position of the seat or turn it into a flat bed.
This seat, instead, relies on a more “manual” approach, where several foldable elements can be raised or lowered to create a kind of sofa where the passenger can lie down.
The advantages: lower cost and weight for the airline (and hopefully lower business class fares too!)