An international jury of aviation experts have decided the shortlist for the 2016 Crystal Cabin Awards. This year – the 10th anniversary of the awards – has seen 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 have been selected, of which eight will be taking home the coveted trophies home on the evening of April 5.
Some of the entries in the Visionary Concepts category have already attracted international attention. One of the finalists, Formation Design, has been turning heads with a concept that mixes first and business class, with the passengers in the first class suites lying down above business class passengers.
The Lifestyle concept from Zodiac Aerospace goes one step further and completely redesigns the cabin. Instead of the traditional, established class system, there are different areas for sitting, sleeping, meeting and lounging.
The third finalist in this category breaks from convention. Design studio Teague has developed Poppi, a new airline concept with which companies can sponsor the unpopular middle seat, for example, using it to offer passengers free products and additional services. Passengers can also get to know one another before the flight using social networks.
Submissions for the Cabin Concepts category – new for this year – are at a far more advanced stage of development. Etihad Airways, working together with Acumen Design, has made it to the final round for the second time in a row. The ingenious use of space in its Boeing 787 Dreamliner First Suites that they offer the same creature comforts as their Airbus A380 product, despite a significantly smaller fuselage.
Virgin Australia’s cabin is another airline concept that has made it to the final three. The designers – London-based Tangerine – have created a new cabin experience for the long-haul A330 and Boeing 777 fleet.
Seymour Powell has also created a special cabin experience. The design agency aims to have created a boutique hotel atmosphere above the clouds with its First Spaces concept, complete with single and double rooms.
The finalists so far may all seem luxurious, but the Crystal Cabin Awards do not only recognize work that benefits wealthy passengers. Numerous finalist innovations are also beneficial to economy class passengers – for example those in the Electronic Systems category. This includes the 2Ku technology developed by American company Gogo, which creates stable broadband internet access in the sky for all passengers thanks to a double antenna.
Lufthansa Systems, on the other hand, has focussed its attention on data transmission within the cabin. With the BoardConnect Portable solution, the crew can simply place a broadband router within the cabin.
And for passengers who are more interested in outstanding entertainment than outstanding bandwidth, the Digital Sky from finalist Thales sees the entire backrest of the seat in front become a touchscreen display
Passenger comfort hardware
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.
Rebel.Aero, on the other hand, made it into the final with an innovative economy class seat whereby the seat surface can be folded upwards, allowing passengers to vary their the seating position during a flight – ideal for taller passengers who would like to stretch their legs for a while.
Teague’s second entry in the finals is the Waterfront business class seat. This long-haul seat concept has a number of innovative elements, such as the ability to charge a smartphone by simply laying it on an inductive surface.
Induction technology is also used in Lufthansa Technik’s inductive hotplate, which allows fresh meals to be prepared in the galley using a pan.
Diehl Service Modules has also secured a second entry in the final round with the Smart Galley, whose modular construction makes it possible to reconfigure the galley for individual flight needs.
American company B/E Aerospace scored well with its flexible LED lighting system, Viu, which can even be installed in hard-to-reach areas of the cabin and can create an endless variety of color moods.
Greener cabin, health, safety and environment
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.
While passengers will never get to see Gauting’s innovation, it’s a different matter with the concept submitted by Boeing. The company has developed a hygienic on-board toilet, the Fresh Lavatory, which incorporates not just cleaner surfaces but also innovative air filters.
The third finalist in this category is Fraunhofer’s PYCO Institute. The German researchers have applied an environmentally friendly recycling process for composite materials used in the cabin.
Material & components
New materials are also covered in the Material & Components category. The company F.LIST made it into the final with the first wooden floor certified for use in the aircraft cabin. This innovation is sure to bring the Austrian company to the attention of the VIP market.
Less glamorous for the passenger, but just as innovative, is the ERMS (Easy Release Modular System) concept, an innovative and significantly more efficient adjustment mechanism for backrests.
Sekisui SPI also made it into the final round in this category with a thermoplastic surface design. The technology, called Infused Imaging, allows for much more detailed and creative designs on cabin elements such as seat shells and partition walls.
It is already clear that the Crystal Cabin Award in the University category will go to Delft University of Technology this year. 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 will be competing against each other this year.
Manon Kuehne has created an innovative headrest for economy class, Ting Yu Chen has devised a multimedia on-board lounge called “FiO”, and a team of six students have developed Modulair, a concept study for a movable galley.
All the finalists will have to appear in front of the judging panel to answer critical and probing questions from the 24 international experts on the judging panel – airline representatives, professors, aircraft manufacturer representatives and journalists – and present their projects in an “elevator pitch”.
The eight winners of the Crystal Cabin Awards 2016 will be announced during Aircraft Interiors Expo at a gala event to be held on the evening of April 5 at the Hotel Atlantic Kempinski in Hamburg. Speakers at this year’s dinner will include Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline, and Brigitte Zypries, Germany’s Federal Parliamentary State Secretary for aerospace policy.