Aircraft Interiors Expo

Added on 08 April 2011 by admin

Bill Read reports from the annual Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg where over 500 companies showcased the latest innovations in cabin interiors.

More than 500 companies attended the show.

As ever, the five exhibition halls of the annual Aircraft Interiors Expo provided a colourful mix of different cabin interior fixtures and fittings varying from seat fabrics, carpets and trims, through in-flight catering and water management systems to lighting, electronic systems and aircraft seats. The wares on show varied from luxurious fittings for business and VIP jet customers down to the more austere facilities available to economy class passengers.

Colourful seats from Chameleon Products.

Seat manufacturers were energetically competing to present either the lightest seat which will fit in the smallest space at the economy class end of the market or the most luxurious first class or VIP business jet seat at the other with extra gadgets. However, the market for economy seating may be (quite literally) running out of room with a comment at a press conference from Airbus head of aircraft interiors, Bob Lange, who said that it was now ‘mathematically impossible’ to make seat backs any thinner.

IFE systems are now echoing iPad and smartphone design and operation.

Competition is also hotting up in the lucrative in-flight entertainment (IFE) system sector. Doug Clime, ceo of Lumexis predicted that IFE was about to undergo a ‘seismic change’ as new companies came onto the market with innovations and that not all suppliers would survive. Certainly, there were plenty of new IFE entrants at the show busy plugging their latest wares, including Chinese company Donica Aviation which claims to supply IFEs to 80% of China’s carriers. IFE selling points this year were a move away from traditional central server designs to more ‘seat-centric’ systems, as well as bigger and brighter screens for business jets and lighter, less-power demanding seatback screens for commercial aircraft passengers. Several new products featured touch-sensitive screens as well as broadband connectivity and USB ports in the side of the screens for charging iPodss and mobile phones.

Contour Aerospace concept seat - aimed at the hard-core gamer passenger.

A highlight of the Contour Aerospace stand was a futuristic egg-shaped ‘concept seat’ pod which looked like something more out of a computer gaming arcade that a conventional seat. “It’s not meant to be a practical design,” explained Contour’s managing director Ian Plummer. “The idea is to make people think and develop ideas which might be used in future designs.”

Need to kit out your cabin crew? The show also featured uniforms.

Many manufacturers took the opportunity of the show to announce new products or sales news. First time seat manufacturer Zim Flugsitz is to supply new lightweight economy-class seating for 12 Air Berlin A330-300s which could save up to 575kg of weight per aircraft. Noble Tek introduced an Apple iPad for maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) staff while AIM Aviation unveiled the new Korean Air flying duty free shop which will be fitted to its fleet of A380s due to enter service in June. In the event of turbulence, all the bottles on display will be held in place with a strong magnet.

Students from the Munich University of Applied Sciences pick up their Crystal Cabin Award.

The first evening of the show featuring a gala dinner at which the winners of the much coveted Crystal Cabin Awards for best cabin interior innovations were announced. The winners included seat manufacturer Recaro (which won prizes for both a slimline and a first class seat), a galley lighting system from Lufthansa Technik and IMS for its RAVE IFE system. The award in the university category went to three female industrial design students at the Munich University of Applied Sciences for their ‘Airgonomic’ seating concept which utilised a special gel inside the seat back and cushion so that it moulds to a passenger’s individual shape.

German wash basin manufacturer Schüschke enlivened proceedings with a live dramatised presentation proclaiming the merits of the company’s new non-touch waste bin flap in which a stern lady commented on the bumbling antics of a nerdy-looking passenger who gets his hands dirty by touching the lid of the bin. Schüschke, which supplies the washbasins for all Airbus’ aircraft, won a Crystal Cabin Award for its new product.

As well as interiors, the Aerospace Testing Expo also featured technical seminars.

The Aircraft Interiors show also hosted the complementary Aerospace Testing Expo with stands from government, industry and academic research and testing facilities. Aerospace Testing also staged a series of open public seminars on a range of technical subjects.

A full report on the Aircraft Interiors show will be appearing in the June edition of Aerospace International.

from the Royal Aeronautical Society

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