Crystal Cabin Awards 2016: The winners!


An international jury of 24 aviation experts have decided the winners of the 2016 Crystal Cabin Awards. This year – the 10th anniversary of the awards – saw the initiative by the Hamburg Aviation cluster attract a record 78 submissions from 18 different nations make it onto the shortlist. Following an initial voting process, 24 finalists were selected, and following a lengthy day of deliberations by the jury, eight victors were chosen, with the prestigious awards presented to the winners at a lavish event at the Hotel Atlantic Kempinski in Hamburg.

Visionary concepts

Winner: Zodiac Aerospace

The Lifestyle concept by Zodiac Aerospace is a vision of how a nose-to-tail aircraft interior could look in 2025, with the interior considered as a system rather than as separate component parts. Instead of the traditional layout of cabins arranged by class, there are different areas for sitting, sleeping, meeting and lounging. The concept – co-developed with New Territory – is challenging in the way it proposes new ways for passengers to move around the cabin and new revenue models, but it provides some food for new thought – especially in its use of space in the crown and cargo areas.

For more details, see our in-depth feature HERE and a video of the concept HERE.

Runners up:

Poppi by Teague

Poppi marks a break from convention. The Teague design studio developed many new ideas in this airline concept to address passenger pain points and benefit airlines, such as a rethinking of baggage to reduce the size and weight of overhead bins, and ways for companies to sponsor the unpopular middle seat, for example by using it to offer passengers free products and additional services.

Formation Design

This studio’s lie-flat seating concept is intended to increase cabin comfort and density, as well as create new revenue opportunities for airlines. The highly efficient seating arrangement is made possible by using some of the cabin’s vertical space to layer bed and seat arrangements, with the aim of increasing cabin density without compromising passenger living space.

For more details, see the article in our Annual Design Showcase HERE.

Cabin concepts

Submissions for the Cabin Concepts category – a new category for this year – are at a far more advanced stage of development than those in the Visionary Concepts category.

Winner: Etihad Airways

This remarkable airline has really earned its many accolades, with a bold and innovative approach to creating the optimal passenger experience really shining through in its A380 and B787 onboard products. The A380 cabin won the  ‘Premium Class & VIP’ category in the awards last year, but this year the B787 first class cabin has secured the Cabin Concepts trophy. This cabin, designed by Acumen as part of the Etihad Design Consortium, is a highly innovative space, with a curved aisle that presented many certification issues to overcome.

For full details, see our in-depth feature HERE.

Runners up:

Tangerine/Virgin Australia

In 2015 Virgin Australia unveiled a major redesign of its long-haul A330-200 and B777 cabin interiors, designed by Tangerine and engineered by B/E Aerospace. Within the constraints of the space and certification requirements, Tangerine rethought everything. The aim was to give the passenger experience a sense of flow, from walking through the aircraft door to the detailing at the end of their fingertips. Key to getting truly differentiated product in the sky quickly was to use pre-certified product such as the B/E business class seats, but to introduce rich variation in surfaces to add luxury and to help distinguish the brand.


This design firm aims to create a boutique hotel atmosphere above the clouds with its First Spaces concept for the A380, complete with single and double rooms. Seymourpowell’s research with first class passengers revealed a market for a very high-end premium service. Privacy was cited as passengers’ primary reason for choosing first class, where they will not be bothered, or even seen, by other passengers. Other insights revealed that first class passengers value discretion, a real sense of personal, ‘unshared’ space and the provision of a faultless experience. In First Spaces, Seymourpowell have addressed these insights.

You can read more detail about the concept HERE.

Electronic systems

The winners and finalists so far may seem mostly for elite travelers, but this category recognizes electronic innovations that can benefit the entire aircraft.

Winner: Lufthansa Systems

Airlines are looking for low-cost solutions which give their passengers an individualized and contemporary travel experience. Lufthansa Systems’ BoardConnect Portable system combines all the technical components needed for an IFE system – such as a server and access points – in a small single device, the Mobile Streaming Unit (MSU). The li-ion battery-powered compact MSU weighs less than 1.5kg, fits into an overhead bin (or mounted on a surface, as pictured above) and can stream 1TB of content to up to 50 passenger devices. Even better, since MSUs qualify as non-permanently installed equipment, airlines don’t incur high installation and certification costs.

BoardConnect Portable is already proving popular: Lufthansa’s subsidiary Eurowings will soon be flying it (two boxes per 150-seat A319), as will Air Dolomiti.

Runners up:

Gogo 2Ku

2Ku is a much anticipated launch for 2016. Gogo’s 2Ku technology uses dual-antenna technology – one for the upward (receive-only) link to the aircraft, the other for the downward (return) link to the ground. The result: 70MBPS to the aircraft.


The Digital Sky concept by Thales really puts the ‘wow’ into economy class IFE. The giant seatback display is part of the seat structure, and can be comfortably viewed at a 33in pitch in economy, or 34in in premium economy (with a 6in recline). The whole screen doesn’t need to be displaying content – it could even show clouds or a meadow to give a greater feeling of space. And if it was implemented in an airline’s premium economy cabin and not economy, it makes a quite compelling reason to upgrade. Thales has researched the health effects of the display and found it has no adverse effects, and has also reported positive results in in-house HIC tests conducted with partner B/E Aeerospace.

Passenger comfort hardware


A composite monocoque seat with a folding mechanism and a three-point harness, which is truly comfortable at a 28in pitch? It may sound like another seating concept, but for Rebel.Aero this folding short- haul economy seat is very real.

The folding mechanism is simple – raise the seat pan, and because the contours of the seatback and seatpan cushion match, it folds flat. This means the occupant can stand up in their own footwell, which has clear benefits for ingress and egress, and a passenger can even sit on the folded part during flight, creating a second seating position around 4.5in higher, which enables them to straighten their legs and stretch the lower back.

Rebel has another trick hidden in its monocoque. In its folded position, the seat could function as a child’s booster seat, which, combined with the three-point harness, would make an attractive proposition for parents flying with children.

More details can be found HERE.

Runners up:

Diehl Aerospace

German company Diehl Aerospace has been getting attention with its Dandelion concept, which enables the projection of images or films in segments of the cabin, for example to create a relaxing or jetlag-reducing lighting mood. In the demonstration Diehl gave the Crystal Cabin Awards judging panel, the ceiling of a cabin became a giant slot machine, for a passenger game on a flight to Las Vegas. Just an idea, but it showed the possibilities…


Teague’s second entry in the awards is the Waterfront business class seat, developed with B/E Aerospace, Panasonic and Formation Design. This long-haul seat concept is based on a proven, certified seat, but neatly integrates a number of innovative elements, such as inductive charging, in-seat climate control, 4K IFE, and clever stowage options for devices.

Cabin systems

Winner: B/E Aerospace

B/E Aerospace scored well with its flexible LED lighting system, Viu Flex, which can be installed in hard-to-reach areas of the cabin and can create an endless variety of color moods. The physical part is a lightweight LED strip which allows a tight curve radius, but the software really brings it to life to create stunning effects.

Runners up:

Lufthansa Technik

The induction technology used in Lufthansa Technik’s hotplate allows fresh meals to be prepared in the galley using a pan. The design sees the pan secured and an extractor pulled directly over the pan during use to ensure safe cooking. This idea could really bring new opportunities to premium class catering.

Diehl Service Modules

Diehl’s Smart Galley features a modular construction that makes it possible to reconfigure the galley for individual flight needs, whether they require more of a particular insert or storage for food. Diehl reports a 5% weight penalty for the galley over a standard model, but also a lower purchase price.

Greener cabin, health, safety and environment

Winner: Boeing

Many passengers dread the prospect of visiting the lav, fearing germs and a suspiciously wet floor. Boeing hopes to put an end to this pain point with the Fresh Lavatory, which uses UV light to sanitize the space between uses, and a ‘dry floor technology’, the details of which they won’t disclose, but which will apparently make shoes less necessary. Boeing says the system takes mere seconds to work, with an external indicator letting the next user know the space is clean and dry. The UVA light used does not damage plastics, or occupant’s skin, if they somehow find themselves inside during a cleaning cycle.

Runners up:

Apparatebau Gauting

Apparatebau Gauting reached the final round with an innovative and environmentally friendly fire extinguishing system for the cargo hold, which sprays a mixture of water and nitrogen when things become serious.

Fraunhofer PYCO Institute

The third runner-up in this category is Fraunhofer’s PYCO Institute. The German researchers have developed an environmentally friendly recycling process for the composite materials used in the cabin. It works, but its business case is yet to be proved.

Material & components

Winner: Sekisui

Sekisui SPI took victory with an innovative thermoplastic surface design process. The technology, called Infused Imaging (similar in principle to skin tattooing), allows for detailed and creative designs on cabin elements such as seat shells and partition walls, without stretching.

Runners up:


F.LIST made it into the final with the first wooden floor certified for use in the aircraft cabin. This innovation, weighing around 7kg per square meter) is laid on top of the cabin floor and is sure to bring the Austrian company to the attention of the VIP market.


The ERMS (Easy Release Modular System) concept is an innovative and efficient electro-mechanic / electronic release system for gas springs, suitable for backrest adjustment mechanisms. Benefits include light weight, a small pressure requirement on the button and, best of all, with the systems linked to a cabin control system, crew can centrally deactivate all backrest reclines during take-off and landing.


It was already clear that the University category would go to Delft University of Technology. The Dutch university has stormed the awards this year, eliminating even last year’s winner, the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, to dominate the final round. This means that students from Delft were competing against each other.

Manon Kuehne created an innovative headrest for economy class that allows passengers to rest their head securely, while Ting Yu Chen devised the FiO multimedia on-board lounge, and a team of six students developed Modulair, a concept study for a movable galley. The winner: the simple and elegant headrest concept. There are a few issues related to hygiene to address, but this idea could be flying soon.

Below: The winning headrest

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About Author


Ever since his first flight on a TriStar, Adam has loved air travel, and since becoming editor of the Aircraft Interiors International brand he has really enjoyed the opportunity to be involved with the latest aircraft and airline products before they are even launched. Adam co-ordinates the running of the magazine, from commissioning articles and artwork, to ensuring that high standards of quality are maintained, as well as managing online content. Adam is proud to sit on the jury of the Crystal Cabin Awards and to have laid on the bed in Etihad's Residence.

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