What’s better than the annual Crystal Cabin Awards? How about biannual Crystal Cabin Awards? In response to the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic on aviation, two special categories have been added for this year, in recognition of aircraft cabin and on-board products that address the latest air travel challenges. The extra prizes are ‘Clean and Safe Air Travel’ and the ‘Judges’ Choice Award’.
The two special categories were developed by a task force of the Crystal Cabin Award Association, which is led by Hamburg Aviation, in collaboration with members of the expert jury, spread over four continents. For the first time, five finalists were shortlisted per category, rather than three.
The special categories for this internationally respected aviation innovation awards scheme are ‘Clean and Safe Air Travel’ and the ‘Judges’ Choice Award’, and 10 finalists competed for the trophies following an initial judging stage.
Spoiler alert: French cabin interiors specialist, Safran, won over the international expert jury in both categories.
Clean & Safe Air Travel
This new category for 2021 recognises innovations for the aircraft cabin in the areas of health, hygiene, safety and cleanliness.
Safran Cabin won with its ‘Beacon Clean Lavatory’, an innovative aircraft toilet concept developed in response to passengers’ increased expectations for hygiene, combining antibacterial surfaces with contactless features.
The design is a realistic prospect, being based on a regular narrowbody lavatory envelope and interfaces, with an end-to-end product lifecycle perspective that balances hygiene and user experience with manufacturability, safety, reliability and operational efficiency.
Occupants of the Beacon Clean Lavatory can access an embedded touchless faucet and soap dispenser, and a minimal toilet bowl design that leaves nowhere for contamination to hide. Indeed the toilet seat and lid has been completely eliminated in favour of a simple and comfortable contoured seat surface that is integrated into the shroud itself, reducing dirt traps and increasing durability and reliability.
After use the ‘Crystal Clean’ far-UVC system in the lav safely and quickly sanitises targeted surfaces and eliminates airborne pathogens between visits. The far-UVC excimer 222nm lamps are packaged together with the LED lighting used for illumination, and Safran says they can eliminate 99.9% of many viruses and bacteria within one minute, including SARS-CoV-2, influenza, MERS-CoV, E-coli, salmonella and Ebola.
For added freshness, air is exchanged between visits using a combination of the lavatory vacuum system and active scent dispensing technology. Intelligent signage and colour-coded wash lighting can indicate to passengers the lavatory status such as ‘occupied’, ‘vacant’, ‘refreshing’ or ‘service required’.
Safran won against Collins Aerospace, a competitor of Safran in business and in the Crystal Cabin Awards in this category. Collins was in the running with Lilac-UV, an ultraviolet (UV) disinfection lamp fitted above passenger seats, which both cabin crew and passengers can activate to clean surfaces during a flight.
The other competitors in the Clean & Safe Air Travel category included US-based Rosen Aviation, which has developed the Holographic Controller so that even cabin crew members don’t have to touch surfaces. With this futuristic control panel, functions in the galley, for example, can be activated and operated using infra-red and motion sensors, eliminating the need for buttons.
MGR Foamtex was competing with an invisible protective shield, designed to enhance the hygiene of seat fabrics. Generally, only superficial cleaning is possible between flights, but the MGRSafeWall anti-microbial protection system is claimed to reduce the SARS-CoV-2 virus load on hard or soft surfaces by 88% within just 15 minutes, and up to 99.9% within two hours.
Likewise, CleanAir from Villinger GmbH also promises to neutralise germs and viruses. This air filter makes use of thousands of ionising micro-electrodes, which the company says can absorb particles substantially smaller than what is required by the current HEPA standard. Furthermore, the filter does not create ozone or nitric oxide as by-products.
Judges’ Choice Award
The second category, the ‘Judges’ Choice Award’, recognises innovations that would otherwise have been submitted in one of the eight regular categories of the Awards, including Cabin Systems and In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity.
Safran also prevailed over four finalists in this category. The winning entry, developed in cooperation with Universal Movement, is the foldable Interspace wings, which can be retrofitted to economy and domestic business class seats. The wings are targeted primarily at short- and medium-haul economy and business class operations, with a flexible design that includes wing-like cushions that can be folding out of the backrest to enhance head support and privacy. More details HERE.
Safran had strong competition from Toyota Boshoku, which had two designs competing in the final judging round, both intended to upgrade the economy class travel experience. The first, the Cloud Capsule Concept, could offer economy passengers the option of both a seat and access to a comfortable bunk bed berth above. The Japanese company’s second entry, the Positively Economy concept, delivers three economy classes in one: an innovative eco-seat at the window, a personalised premium economy class, and ‘premium plus’ seating in the centre, with more space and privacy.
Another contestant with more than one entry in the final was Rosen Aviation, which also made it into the top five of this category, with the Maverick Project, a private jet cabin design full of digital highlights and intuitive control panels and applications, which can learn from passenger behaviour. The design was developed in cooperation with SKY Style and KIPCreating.
Finally, Austria’s FACC AG and its cooperation partners FH Joanneum, Netwiss, Raltec research group, Rodlauer Consulting, TU Vienna, FFG, and BMVIT are also working to make an aircraft cabin design that is more accessible to everyone. On short-haul and medium-haul single-aisle aircraft, the space for lavatories is limited by the airlines’ need to maximise seating capacity. The LAV4ALL promises 100% disabled-accessible aircraft lavatories, which can be retrofitted in narrow-bodies such as the Airbus A320, or in wide-bodied jets such as a Boeing Dreamliner.
The two new special categories were presented to the winners at an online presentation as part of the Aircraft Interiors Expo Virtual (AIX Virtual) on 15 September. While the physical AIX event was again postponed due to Covid-related issues, the show’s organisers expect to see the trade show return to Hamburg in 2022, with an in-person awards ceremony for the Crystal Cabin Awards.