As aircraft manufacturers embrace the advancements of emerging technologies, airlines are striving to enhance the comfort and enjoyment of passengers by seeking ways to improve the aircraft they purchase.
Improving the interiors of aircraft is critical for ensuring a pleasant travel experience. As smart cabins become more prevalent, the aviation industry is expected to shift its focus towards the development of a new generation of products that prioritize comfort, sustainability, and hygiene.
Indeed, we are currently witnessing the pinnacle of a new era in aviation innovations, where sustainability has emerged as a crucial factor alongside passenger comfort and technological capabilities.
On what basis are we making these claims?
During the Aircraft Cabin Innovation Summit 2023, held in Hamburg last March and hosted by Airbus, leaders in the aviation industry gathered to explore the future direction of passenger experience improvements. Significant insights and projections were presented, providing a glimpse into how air travel is expected to evolve in the coming years.
The event also featured the results of a survey conducted by RedCabin, an organization renowned for organizing transportation-focused events. The survey findings shed light on the key areas that require the utmost attention and focus within the aviation industry.
According to the survey "Future of Aircraft Interiors," 78% of respondents highlighted the significance of improving sleeping ability on board. This emphasizes that ensuring passenger comfort during sleep is one of the key priorities in shaping the future of the aviation industry.
In response to the question regarding the area of the aircraft cabin that necessitates the most physical innovation today, 48% of respondents indicated "seats" as their answer.
According to the survey, 30% of the respondents identified improving comfort as a key aspect to enhance in-flight experiences. Additionally, 17% emphasized the significance of better in-flight connectivity to make the most of the time during travelling. Another 15% of respondents suggested improving communal spaces onboard, while the remaining 20% selected "other" as their preference.
During these times of navigating through the challenging pandemic period and its consequential impacts, upholding hygiene standards onboard emerges as a vital concern for passengers. The survey results unequivocally reflect this reality, with 69% of respondents agreeing that substantial efforts are necessary to ensure cleaner aircraft cabins.
Among the suggestions to improve hygiene onboard, the use of antimicrobial materials was favored by 38% respondents. The second most popular suggestion, supported by 17% of participants, involved the increase of contactless and self-cleaning toilets. Additionally, 15% of respondents emphasized the importance of adopting additional measures to prevent viral contamination.
Sustainability in aircraft cabins is indeed another key topic that the industry needs to prioritize. According to the survey, 65% of respondents believe that there will be significant advancements in terms of sustainability in aircraft cabins within the next 2-5 years.
40% of respondents anticipate an increased use of lighter materials in aircraft cabins, while 30% of survey participants emphasize the significance of developing "green alliances" and collaborations for the strongest sustainability innovations in aircraft cabins.
Let's delve into the technological aspects!
The integration of advanced sensors and IoT technology has significantly contributed to the transformation of airplane cabins into smarter environments. These intelligent systems have the capability to collect and analyze extensive data about the aircraft and its passengers, enabling real-time sharing of valuable insights with relevant parties. Cabin attendants can conveniently access these insights on handheld smart devices, empowering them to take prompt actions based on the information received. Ultimately, it leads to several key benefits including reduced delays, enhanced flight safety, increased passenger satisfaction, and improved operational efficiency.
What can smart aircraft cabins offer us?
The main goal of implementing smart cabin systems on aircraft is to attract new passengers and ensure the loyalty of existing ones. By enhancing the comfort and satisfaction of passengers during their time in the sky, airlines aim to create a positive and enjoyable travel experience. Smart cabin systems enable flight attendants to access real-time data about various aspects of the cabin environment.
For example, tracking the number of occupied seats and identifying the availability and location of alternative empty seats, which can be offered to passengers who wish to change their seating arrangements can be achieved in real-time. Smart cabin technology also enables the monitoring of toilet usage during takeoff or landing, as well as the identification of passengers who may require assistance in this regard.
It also eliminates the need for routine checks conducted by cabin crew, such as ensuring all seats are upright and service tables are closed during takeoff and landing, which are crucial for flight safety.
By utilizing a tablet, cabin crew can easily verify the proper position of trolleys and other equipment in the galley. Within seconds, they can also access information regarding passengers who have ordered meals with specific preferences, check if these meals have been loaded onto the aircraft and identify the seat assignments of these passengers.
Using handheld devices, flight attendants can check the status of overhead bins, ensuring they are securely closed and see the available space in each bin, all from the comfort of their seats. Furthermore, after landing, they can easily identify if any passengers have left personal belongings in the overhead bins.
Business jet cabins will also become smarter!
The experience of flying by private jet indeed presents unique dynamics, considering the differences in size, occupancy, and comfort compared to commercial passenger aircraft. However, several features of smart cabins that enhance safety and convenience are also applicable for business jets. For example, in both commercial passenger airplanes and business jets, instances of smoke or fire in the cabin and any change in cabin pressure can be detected and reported instantly.
As business jets often do not have cabin crew on board, the cabin is equipped with modern technology to enhance the efficiency and enjoyment of passengers' time in the air. Alongside cosmetic features like temperature and lighting control, the advanced technology in business jet cabins enables passengers to access various amenities. They can enjoy movies or other entertainment options through the in-flight entertainment system (IFE), which can be accessed via in-flight wireless internet connectivity.
With the continuous advancement of technology, airlines and cabin designers are exploring innovative concepts that could transform the passenger experience. One such concept involves the replacement of traditional aircraft windows with high-definition screens. These screens would be connected to external cameras mounted on the aircraft, capturing panoramic views of the sky and surroundings, thus passengers would be able to enjoy a clear and immersive view of the outside world as they travel.
Smart aircraft cabins are likely to revolutionize the industry and introduce a new era of competition among companies by offering benefits such as minimized delays due to inefficient boarding processes, enhanced cabin safety, improved operational efficiency with real-time access to flight data on a single smart device, alleviated workload and stress on cabin crew, improved passenger experience, and increased passenger loyalty. And as travelers, all we can do is to enjoy every second of the flight