1. More Room to Pass
Product: PASSME Innovative Aircraft Seat
Specifications: One of the inventions created through the European PASSME project, which aims to reduce door-to-door travel time for European airline passengers by 60 min., is the Innovative Aircraft Seat developed by Almadesign, Optimares, TU Delft and the German Aerospace Center. The concept works by temporarily increasing an aircraft’s aisle width to 32 in. from 16 in. using a mechanical actuator on each row of three seats. During boarding and de-planing, the seat pans are positioned about 100 mm (4 in.) higher and 8 in. narrower than standard seats, creating room for passengers to pass each other in the aisle. During taxi, takeoff and landing, the row of seats is unlocked and the weight of passengers actuates the seat mechanism, moving it down and sideways toward the aisle. Test results from the prototype and software simulations show an improvement of 30% in boarding/de-planing times. The system is predicted to increase seat weight by only about 5%. A representative for the inventors says the seating system should be adaptable to any aircraft and will be presented to airlines for the first time at the 2018 Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg.
2. Reserving Overhead Bin Space
Product: SLS Optimus
Specifications: Another by-product of the PASSME project is the SLS Optimus hand luggage feedback system. Developed as a prototype by a team of students at TU Delft, the system allows spaces in an aircraft’s overhead bins to be reserved in an airline’s booking system. Carry-on luggage can be scanned for dimensions via the app or at the airport and assigned a place in an overhead bin. Passengers then can be guided to the reserved spot via interactive lighting and signage, which also can correct passengers who place luggage in a spot they did not reserve. Based on the results of testing the student team conducted at the university’s Aircraft Lab, the SLS Optimus can potentially save up to 5 min. during the entry and exit process. The team is in talks with several airlines about implementing the idea and also is working with a major cabin interior manufacturer on developing the concept further.
3. Noise-Canceling Headrest
Product: Haeco Wave Headrest
Specifications: Haeco is building on its double-hinge Arc headrest platform by adding noise-cancelation technology. The new headrest offers a full 180-deg. curve around a passenger’s head without the gaps created by traditional three-panel headrests. Noise-dampening materials are paired with active noise-canceling technology, which is integrated into the in-seat power source and can be further integrated into the inflight entertainment system. Haeco says the headrest, which is still in development, is designed to be easy to install and maintain. The company is waiting to receive feedback from customers at this year’s AIX before determining when the Wave headrest will enter service with a launch customer on the Airbus A350-1000.
4. Guidance For Visually Impaired Travelers
Specifications: Created by students at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, PaxNav is a passenger assistance system concept designed to help travelers needing guidance inside airports and aircraft. Using a combination of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies, PaxNav can pinpoint a person’s location and provide directions to specific destinations, such as a departure gate, assigned seat or even the shortest security line. The application, which could be controlled via touchscreen or voice commands, gives visual or audio route directions from a passenger’s personal device—and a representative for the project says airports also could have devices available for visually impaired travelers, similar to audio guides in museums. The concept’s feasibility was proven through lab tests, and the application promises to provide help to visually impaired passengers.
5. Cleaner, Greener Faucet
Product: Diehl Multifunctional Touchless Faucet
Specifications: Diehl is aiming to reduce resource consumption and improve lavatory hygiene with its Multifunctional Touchless Faucet. The faucet combines touchless controls for temperature and the dispensing of water, soap and disinfectant in one functional device that the company describes as elegant and simple. To reduce water consumption by an intended goal of more than 50%, the faucet uses a specially designed nozzle that does not add air to the water jet while also reducing local microbial contamination and calcification. Diehl says it plans to offer the faucet for both line-fit and retrofit of standard connections to the water supply that will be used. The faucet is still in the testing phase and undergoing improvements, but Diehl plans to bring it to the market in 2020.
6. Home Experience In The Sky
Product: Singapore Airlines A380 Suites
Specifications: As part of its portfolio of new cabin products, Singapore Airlines recently released its much-anticipated A380 Suites. The airline says the suites are a result of research conducted since 2013 to meet rising customer expectations. The suites promise an “all-encompassing home experience in the sky” and include luxurious features such as a reclining and swiveling seat upholstered in full-grain Poltrona Frau leather, double beds, adjustable mood lighting, lavatories with a sit-down vanity counter, ultra-leather padded compartments for luggage and more. They were designed in collaboration with Pierrejean Design Studio, manufactured by Zodiac Seats UK and installed by Airbus. Although Singapore Airlines is not disclosing the specific cost of developing and building the suites, a representative says the total investment for its new cabin products is about $850 million.
7. Using Virtual Reality To Improve Passenger Comfort
Product: Airbus/Inflight VR IFE System
Specifications: Airbus has partnered with Inflight VR to create a virtual reality (VR) inflight entertainment (IFE) system which is aimed at improving the passenger experience. The system allows passengers to use VR headsets to explore various applications for entertainment, shopping and more while giving them a perceived feeling of greater space and comfort. The companies have even included relaxation programs, which they say can help passengers fall asleep or reduce their fear of flying. Inflight VR says its software solution is compatible with most VR devices currently available, and it has worked to ensure third-party content is “flight-safe”—meaning it is optimized to prevent motion sickness and does not interfere with situational and spatial awareness. The VR IFE System has been tested by more than 50 airlines, which Inflight VR says have provided positive feedback. The company is engaged in or preparing tests with multiple carriers and expects the system to go live with its first customer this year.
8. A Feasible Solution For Sharing Armrests
Product: Aerofoam Armrest
Specifications: Dueling elbows may become a thing of the past with the new Aerofoam Armrest. Designed by ACLA Studio and manufactured by Aerofoam Industries, the armrest is designed to help resolve space-intrusion conflicts by providing comfortable positioning for two elbows on the same armrest. The curved design allows one person to rest an elbow on top of the armrest while their neighbor can rest an elbow underneath, which ACLA Studio says makes the middle seat the widest and most comfortable. The product is currently in development on multiple interfaces to see if it can be installed via line-fit or retrofit on the majority of economy-class seats on the market. Aerofoam Industries did not share details about potential airline trials or customers, but plans to demonstrate the armrest at AIX.
9. Consistent, Flexible Food Preparation
Product: Weigele Aerospace Airborne Cooking Robot
Specifications: Weigele Aerospace seeks to address the issue of inconsistent heating in aircraft ovens with its Airborne Cooking Robot. Designed to be compatible with old systems and racks, the new technology features a computer-controlled interface module for wireless power and data which can easily be plugged into an oven. New removable racks providing 30 channels of controllable spot heating can slide right into traditional aircraft ovens, allowing both warm and cold meals to be prepared on one tray. Weigele says the patent-pending technology will allow for higher efficiency through reduced power consumption and an easier workload for cabin crews. Although the technology is still in the prototype phase, Weigele is in contact with multiple companies and airlines about optimizing its use, and a representative says a potential launch customer has been located. The company’s goal is to start serial development of the Airborne Cooking Robot this summer and finish work in the first half of 2020.
10. Intelligent Monitoring Of Cabin Conditions
Product: FliteTrak ViatorAero
Specifications: FliteTrak’s ViatorAero system is the first of its kind for intelligent, remote monitoring of conditions in an aircraft cabin. Using a series of sensors throughout the cabin, ViatorAero monitors individual seats for factors such as temperature, seat belt closure and mobile phone activation. The system also can monitor and lock overhead storage bins, analyze cabin air quality and flag issues such as broken equipment. ViatorAero’s collected data is transmitted in real time to flight attendants, maintenance staff and onboard communications systems, so issues can be identified and resolved. In addition to talks with European partners for rollout of the system on major airlines, FliteTrak has been working on artificial-intelligence developments for the system. The company says AI will enable learning from ViatorAero’s collected data to recognize incidents or trends and act upon them preemptively.