The latest project at Altea’s aircraft interior design studio in London has been to develop bespoke galley inserts for safely storing delicate items such as crockery and flatware. The inserts, designed for use on private jets, are lined with foams, leathers and fabrics to ensure the stowed items remain quiet as well as cushioned during flight. With many custom galleys in private aircraft, the drawer inserts can be redesigned to fit any particular stowage space.
In principle, a padded drawer sounds like a simple brief, but as ever in aircraft interiors, the limited stowage space onboard meant that extensive research had to be carried out in order to determine the most suitable method for manufacturing the drawer inserts. The distinct shape of the crockery and other items was scanned by Altea’s designers and entered into 3D CAD software, in which the best method of manufacture could be decided ahead of physical prototyping. Options evaluated included water jet cutting of foams, and 3D printing using the latest rapid prototype materials.
“Operators and owners want their dedicated flatware, cutlery, etc to fit perfectly into the purpose-built drawers. These spaces are quite often very small so sometimes we must get creative on how to use the space, which then dictates our method of manufacture and material, commented Robin Dunlop, a partner at Altea.
With that process completed, the designs were then sent to high-tech manufacturing specialists, as well as Altea’s preferred experts in leather and man-made textile trim. This stage was slightly simpler, as while the company must abide by certain design considerations for the inserts to ensure they are safe for use on aircraft, no specific testing is required for many such items – indeed many aircraft operators and owners treat these types of products as carry-on items. Of course, safety-compliant décor materials were specified for the inserts.
One of the main challenges of designing the galley inserts was out of Altea’s hands – the fluctuations in tolerance of the crockery and flatware manufacturers. According to Altea’s findings, the chinaware industry works with fairly wide tolerances on the sizing of their products, which can create problems in fitting some items into the galley insert stowage spaces. To overcome this problem, the Altea methodically 3D scans and measures each item due to be stowed, as well as the space required to store items nested together.