Nation & World

Airlines aim to change how you fly

A look at some trends coming to aircraft soon

Bloomberg

Airbus shows off its new bench seating at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany, earlier this month.
Bloomberg Airbus shows off its new bench seating at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany, earlier this month.

Commercial flying may have lost its mythical appeal from the bygone jet age, but aerospace companies are busy trying to improve the passenger experience on board an aircraft.

At the annual Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany, earlier this month, the biggest showcase for innovation in the cabin, hundreds of exhibitors presented new seats, fabrics, lights, in-flight entertainment systems or creative layout concepts.

Here are some of the key features presented at this year’s show by more than 500 exhibitors:

1 Over the decades, seat and cabin fabrics have veered from psychedelic to muted tones. The latest trend is a more homey feeling. Lonseal, for example, presented flooring that mimics the grainy details of real wood for a more soothing atmosphere in the cabin space.

2 Mood lighting continues to be a major force of cabin innovation, but the new generation of LED lights also lets airlines considerably cut weight.

Cedar Rapids-based Collins Aerospace introduced a reading lamp that can adapt to different applications, from large spot to small target, with full-color options, eliminating the need for additional elements such as sidewall lighting.

3 Recaro Holding presented a redesign of its back-of-the-cabin economy seat built especially for long-distance routes. It features additional sleeping aids such as wraparound head support and a retractable ledge to extend the seat and provide more thigh support.

Lantal is working on a temperature-control system that lets the occupant heat or cool that seat.

4 Airbus is experimenting with a new seat layout that it calls the settee corner, combining a single-person seat with a bench design that can be used for meetings during flight or to spread out for a nap.

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5 Panasonic Avionics is bringing an air-deodorizing system to the cabin that purifies the area around a business-passenger’s seat, using nano-sized electrostatic atomized particles to neutralize air and battle viruses and bacteria.

6 Fokker Technologies engineers are working on infusing the cabin with distinct fragrances, and the company is collaborating with cosmetics brand Rituals on a product that distributes scents through the air-conditioning system, promising greater passenger comfort or the ability to create signature airline scents for better brand recognition.

7 Panasonic has created an in-flight map that uses personal travel information from a passenger’s loyalty-program profile and integrates it with in-flight entertainment features and details of the surroundings as well as the destination.

Coming next year, the map also will allow passengers to use FlightAware data that follows flight paths of other aircraft.

8 Airbus and Boeing both have been working on bigger bins, and Boeing showcased the new layout of its 777X widebody aircraft.

9 Airbus also wants to make the bins smarter, using sensors that track if a locker is in use as well as the weight of the loaded luggage, providing vital data to the airline about occupancy rates.

10 In the future, Airbus wants to give passengers the option to book their own bin space.

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