Airbus showcased its latest cabin innovations at this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo, presenting a mock-up of a space-saving rear lavatory and galley concept for the single-aisle A320 jetliner family for the first time.
Called Space-Flex, the concept makes more efficient use of the volume at the rear of the cabin, allowing two lavatories and a galley to be accommodated there and offering airlines the option of either installing up to three more revenue-generating seats in the cabin or improving seat pitch. Through a simple conversion process, one of the Space-Flex lavatories can provide full access for reduced-mobility passengers – an industry first on single-aisle aircraft, according to Airbus.
The manufacturer also displayed another key to cabin flexibility at the Expo: the A350 XWB enabling platform, simulating the cabin of Airbus’s planned all-new widebody twinjet. The platform features standard interfaces designed to accommodate a wide variety of operator needs and cabin furnishings, allowing airlines to reconfigure their cabin in service more easily than before.
At the show, Airbus also displayed its Space-Innovative Catering Equipment (SPICE) galley project, which has been making steady progress during the past year. The manufacturer has been carrying out user trials of the catering system at a full-scale test facility in Toulouse, demonstrating full cabin service for up to 200 passengers.
According to Airbus, SPICE “improves crew working conditions at the same time as saving hundreds of kilogrammes of weight and generating space for additional revenue seats”.
Panasonic Avionics unveiled its latest in-flight entertainment and communications (IFEC) product, the eX3 at the Hamburg show on 6 April.
According to Panasonic, the eX3 represents its “tenth-generation IFEC solution” designed to deliver a high-quality passenger experience at a minimised total cost of ownership, using the latest advances in broadband connectivity, efficient design and an open-platform architecture.
“Using eX3, airlines will be able to leverage a true business platform that helps drive brand loyalty, maximise revenue per available seat mile, and minimise cost per available seat mile,” Panasonic says.
Design features include seamless interior integration, capacitive touch, proximity sensors, wide viewing angles, touch-screen handsets, and next-generation processors. The system will be able to offer all passengers, regardless of travel class: broadband connectivity and mobile phone services; high-definition (HD) video; “the highest levels of personalisation”; onboard social networking; an immersive interactive environment based on the Android operating system; thousands of applications and high-end video games.
Premium passengers will enjoy large HD and even 3D displays, productivity tools such as video conferencing, and a “true home-theatre entertainment experience”. For economy-class travellers, eX3 will offer unprecedented space and comfort.
Panasonic says it continues “to invest heavily in advanced media strategies” aimed at reducing cost of content and speeding up its availability to airlines.
“With Android, solid state disc drives, fewer components, improved BITEaccuracy, and real-time system monitoring through connectivity, [eX3] also will be inherently more reliable than earlier Panasonic solutions,” the company says. In addition, the system’s simplified, lighter architecture reduces aircraft total weight, cutting fuel consumption.
SEAT MANUFACTURER Recaro demonstrated its Basic Line 3520 product at the Aircraft Interiors Expo, highlighting a 30 percent weight reduction from the company’s previous economy-class seat. The new seat weighs just 11kg (24.3lb) and offers increased legroom by placing the seat-back literature pocket above the tray table rather than at the level of the passenger’s knees. The company says its goal was to allow airlines to install an additional two rows of seats in their single-aisle aircraft while reducing weight and offering passengers the same amount of space as current seating does. Recaro stresses that its seats are recyclable, being made from aluminium and recyclable plastic and avoiding carbon-fibre composites. Lufthansa has become the launch customer for the seat, which it has installed on the fleets of five subsidiary airlines.
IN-FLIGHT Entertainment (IFE) manufacturer IMS won a Crystal Cabin Award at the Hamburg show for its “seat-centric” Rave system. The product differs from traditional server-based systems in that each seat-back display unit contains all content, applications and playback functionality independent of other displays in the cabin, much like a portable system. IMS says Rave has been selected by Brussels Airlines, Air Berlin and SriLankan Airlines, with Lufthansa poised to carry out a system trial this year. IMS has traditionally specialised in portable IFE units, and Rave uses much technology in common with the company’s Edge portable player.