In society, individuals are connected and formed into groups based on several criteria and preferences. However, in an aircraft, passengers are arranged randomly and are seated next to people they don’t know but will inevitably have to interact with. The aircraft environment is focused on the seat, which leads to complaints and discomfort. Creating a space that enables nice interactions between individuals while also offering privacy could enhance the flight experience. This seems to be contradictory, but it has been realised in a recent MSc project at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.
Left: How people gather in a society
Below: How passengers are arranged in an aircraft
Current BWB interiors
The current blended wing body (BWB) aircraft interiors are close to the interiors that are flying today on regular commercial aircraft, with all passengers sitting in a bus-like seat structure looking to the front. However, by adding scattered linkages between the ceiling and floor, pressure issues can be solved, while also offering new possibilities for freedom of configuration. Passengers can even choose a specific zone that best fits their wishes.
Future flying can be tackled differently to create a nice experience. In 2050 social media will be so prevalent that everyone will be connected. Also, airlines will have more preference data, making it possible to create travel groups. New communication systems such as wearable technology (a step further than Google Glasses) can provide easy access to information on seating, other travellers and inflight features such as a buffet.
The city metaphor is used in the design: in the centre there is more dense and vivid activity, and in the periphery it is quiet and you can have a single seat to sleep or do your work. In the BWB you can even go shopping in the centre.
Left: The sleeping cabin allows passengers with space to to lie flat and to travel in peace
Right: The aisle linked to the centre tree hub works as a shopping avenue, offering passengers a new destination during a flight
In the BWB there is a centre tree hub, which is an area used for the buffet, networking, and multimedia information sharing. Seats are not traditionally organised, but instead are arranged in groups according to the passengers’ virtual contacts. Via social media systems that will be further developed than current networks such as LinkedIn or Facebook, passengers will have virtual contacts and they can decide whether or not they wish to join a group in the aircraft.
Left: The centre tree hub provides a space for socialising, complete with drinks, a buffet and interactive screens
Passengers will have a great flight experience as new contacts are made and discussions held, while there is also room for anyone seeking privacy. Additionally, the experience will enhance passengers’ well-being, as during long flights the most refreshing activity is walking through the aircraft, and the BWB interior creates new passenger destinations.
Right: Seats arranged according to the city metaphor, with a central public space, a periphery, and streets connecting the two
To be studied further
The interior schemes for this aircraft would lead to greater passenger well-being. However, the question is whether passengers are willing to pay 20% more for the ticket or whether the fuel consumption is 20% less. This is because according to our calculations, the seat density is lower than in a conventional layout. In this configuration 504 to 700 passengers will fit into the BWB we studied (when the sided cargo space is substituted with sleeping cabins), while 800 passengers would fit in the bus seat configuration.
The interior is designed in such a way that it has:
• Efficient boarding: four parallel aisles make fast boarding possible, which is good for safety as well. Groups are formed before boarding, suggested by social media and the booking system
• Freedom of personalisation: people can book a single seat, a sleeping cabin or a group seat. The buffet also provides freedom in selecting the size and timing of meals
• Fly quietly or socially: make the experience your own through the provision of section divisions and the ripple pattern (noise fades away before reaching the periphery area)
• Various activities: exercising, shopping, buffet, networking and walking through the aircraft are all possible
• Passenger well-being: this is enhanced through having social contacts, by doing various activities, by being surrounded by nature scenes and blue sky, and through the spacious cabin design
• Efficiency expenses: passengers enjoy better rest, and operators save money on flight attendants and gain extra income by providing various activities
Below: The six passenger benefits improve the flight experience and well-being
Submitted by: Y. Wang, Jie Li & P. Vink, Delft University of Technology