Crystal Cabin Awards

As Hamburg’s Aircraft Interiors Expo looms, the 18 finalists for the Crystal Cabin Award 2012 have been announced. Caroline Cook reports.
The Crystal Cabin Award (CCA) has been sought after by industry leaders since it was first introduced on April 17, 2007.  Presented each year at the Aircraft Interiors Expo, it is the only international award for excellence in aircraft interior innovation and is donated by the Senate of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.
On February 21, the 18 finalists for a CCA 2012 were announced.  The judging panel, comprising 23 international experts, viewed 58 submissions, assigning points for criteria such as innovation, practicality, added value for airlines and comfort for passengers.
Companies from seven different countries made the list.  The most nominations in the award’s six categories came from Germany and the USA.  Six trophies will be presented on the evening of March 27 and, on the following morning, the winners will be in the Crystal Cabin Award Gallery at the Expo.

Visionary Concepts

This category focuses on aircraft cabins of the future.  It aims to find concepts that will retain passenger comfort, yet incorporate the latest technologies, and particularly questions how aircraft can become even more sustainable.
Almadesign – LIFE
Portuguese design and consultant company Almadesign officially unveiled the Lighter, Friendly and Eco-Efficient (LIFE) aircraft cabin in June 2011.  The cabin is a conceptual vision shared by several companies of the future executive jet:  Amorim Cork Composites, Couro Azul, INEGI, SETsa, Almadesign and Embraer.
The concept is focused on the use of natural and sustainable materials, such as leather and cork, combined with state-of-the-art technology.  Its unifying design language is inspired by natural structures and based on a symbiotic relationship between natural and artificial elements.
The company claims that the technology used is “subtly pervasive but not imposed on the passenger.”  Furthermore, the interior design has been developed for privately owned aircraft, with an executive area, meeting space, leisure lounge, full bathroom, bedroom and an “interactive sphere with immersive infotainment system.”
(All images via CCA)
Diehl Aircabin – Changing Room
During regular airline flights, passengers often use the lavatory facilities for freshening up or changing attire before landing.  These areas have restricted space and – many passengers believe – have questionable hygiene.
With this in mind, German developer and manufacturer Diehl Aircabin (a joint venture between Diehl and Thales) has proposed a separate changing room.  This facility has a textile floor, a large mirror and many shelves.  The company suggests it could be installed in the entrance area of an aircraft, adjoining the existing lavatory, without taking up the airline’s valuable revenue space.
During flight, cabin crew can adjust the module wall which, in the fully extended position, is fixed to the floor.  For emergency or landing conditions, the company proposes that the module is easily and quickly collapsible.
Zodiac Aerospace – Genesis Seat Concept
Zodiac Aerospace from Mexico has tackled the issue of space onboard an aircraft with its latest concept, the Genesis seat.  This unique folding system offers a dynamic space that can satisfy the cargo and travelling needs of passengers.
The futuristic design also incorporates “user-centred solutions aimed at integrating the amenities of the premium class with the economic convenience of a tourist class,” according to Zodiac.
The ultimate aim of this product is to become a highly-efficient business solution for many airlines, as well as creating a better flying experience for the passenger.

Premium Class Products

As its name suggests, this category explores Premium, Business, First Class and VIP products, including full cabin designs.
EMTEQ – Flat Panel LED Tile
The Flat Panel LED Tile from US-based EMTEQ is the company’s new accent lighting.  This thin, illuminated lighting tile is available in different sizes.  It can be placed behind many surfaces, including floors, countertops, walls, vanities and ceiling fixtures, to provide an enhanced ambience.
JPA Design – Cathay Pacific New Business Class Suite
Cathay Pacific’s new Business Class Suite has been created by JPA Design, UK, to enhance passenger privacy.  All seats are configured in an away-from-the-aisle layout with a wing-back chair design.  Outboard seats are angled toward the window, whereas the centre seats, which also slide forwards, are ideal for travelling with a companion.
The bed is one of the longest and widest in its class.  The internal foam is ergonomically designed to optimise comfort, and a unique bed extension feature extends the width to six inches.
A retractable armrest, a large side pocket, a shoe locker and a side cabinet are also provided.  The latter contains a vanity mirror and can also be used as a privacy screen.  Furthermore, passengers have control of everything in their environment, from the seat to the entertainment system.
The suite was designed by JPA in conjunction with Cathay Pacific for launch in March 2011 on the airline’s new A330-300 and B777-300ER aircraft.
C&D Zodiac – C3 Ultralounge
One of two American nominations in this category, the C3 Ultralounge from C&D Zodiac “completely redefines the premium passenger experience”.
This cabin has a high-vaulted ceiling, uninterrupted by overhead bins.  Instead of the traditional twin aisle, a single large aisle with multiple cross aisles is used to speed up the boarding process.  Each seat has a personal stowage compartment attached to the rectangular lie-flat suite, which is equipped with all the expected amenities.
The unique arrangement also allows for various seating options:  club seating can be attained by using the drop-down ottoman, companion seating with the drop-down privacy divider, and conference seating, which combines the two.
The airline also feels the benefits of this product:  fuel can be saved through the reduced weight and simplified cabin service due to the cross aisles.  C&D believes that “every aspect of the cabin experience is improved, from boarding to eating to sleeping and beyond.”

Material and Components

Finding companies that can produce materials and components to cut production costs and maximise usability is a key concern for the judges to consider in this category.
Diehl Comfort Modules (DASELL) – Modular Glued Cable Bracket System
German manufacturer DASELL developed the low-cost, reduced-weight Modular Glued Cable Bracket System to tackle stricter requirements in the airline industry for wiring installations.
It has a click-and-snap mechanism, meaning that implementation is possible without tools, and it assists in standardising and simplifying these wiring installations.  Highly flexible and with a limited number of parts, it benefits from a reduction in production time.
TTF Aerospace TSkin
Passenger stowbins suffer much wear and tear throughout their lifetime and, after sufficient damage, can often leave passengers with a bad impression of the airline.  TTF Aerospace, USA, has developed TSkin to improve the appearance and maintenance of these bins.  This abrasion-resistant lining system can be quickly installed – approximately six hours on a Boeing 767 – improving the look of old bins and preventing damage to the new.
TSkin is a multi-layered sheet assembly with a peel-and-stick application.  It offers a new decorative finish to passengers and is intended to be replaced and recycled – this eliminates weight growth in the aircraft and provides a “lifetime of fresh bins”.
Sell – FST Adhesive Applications
This highly innovative adhesive was developed by German company Sell, in partnership with 3M.  The product implements new designs and appearances for cabin interior monuments.
The adhesive complies with current and future fire, smoke and toxicity regulations as well as manufacturer standards.  The product helps to reduce the structural weight and to improve the operational efficiency of the airline, whilst increasing the capacity of cabin interior monuments.

Industrial Design & Technical Concepts

Products, modules and assemblies that are designed to enhance efficiency are evaluated in this category.  Effectiveness, efficiency, ergonomic advantages and ease of implementation and usage are also taken into account.  Products under scrutiny by the judges may include seats, galleys, lavatories and trolleys, among others.
Public Design Lab, Hong Kong Polytechnic University  – BrailleWise
The second finalist product in this category looks after the needs and preferences of visually-impaired passengers.  The BrailleWise strip allows the passenger to access an aircraft’s lavatory easily and independently.  Hong Kong University believes it provides not only physical assistance, but also psychological comfort and dignity.
Benefitting from low-cost production, installation, maintenance and daily management, the product can be used in different lavatory configurations and can be easily modified for future developments.
Its design maintains the hygienic standards of a lavatory and does not detract from the appearance of the cubicle.  BrailleWise aims to promote the positive and caring image of an airline without causing inconvenience to other passengers.
B/E Aerospace & Teague – B/E Aerospace Essence Inserts Collection
The first complete family product line of its kind, the US-developed Essence Inserts Collection redefines the aircraft galley experience.
B/E Aerospace worked in partnership with Teague to develop a range of products that holds long-term value and innovation.  The end result consists of ten individual products with a single design language: steam oven, convection oven, bun warmer, beverage chiller, refrigerator and freezer, beverage maker, espresso maker, water boiler and hot cup.
The companies promise “an unmatched user experience” from the collection and its design, cost and user-friendly features make it ideal for the modern galley.
Sicma Aero Seat – Dragonfly
The French Dragonfly seat is the lightest in the market for short- and medium-haul aircraft.  At no more than 7.5kg – 20% lighter than its nearest competitor – the Dragonfly is easy to maintain.  With this seat, airlines can offer their Economy Class passengers a comfortable travel experience, even at very short pitch.  The product is fully compliant, developed and tested.

Passenger Comfort

Entries into this category must provide comfort for all, or a group of, passengers.  As an important business factor for airlines, the Passenger Comfort category includes entertainment and communication systems, seats, lavatories and trolleys.  A product which is used by a larger group of individuals may well achieve higher marks through its increased effectiveness of the airline’s success.
Lufthansa Systems – BoardConnect
Wireless infotainment solution BoardConnect from German Lufthansa Systems is a low-maintenance system which reputedly saves costs while opening up new revenue opportunities and increasing customer loyalty.
Video-on-demand entertainment is provided via wireless LAN on the passengers’ own WiFi-enabled devices, such as notebooks, iPads and smartphones.  Additional passenger services include electronic in-flight magazines, individual cabin service and shopping.
The system can be installed on both older and new aircraft quickly and flexibly.
SCHOTT and LHT HelioJet
HelioJet – the first product of a joint venture between SCHOTT AG and Lufthansa Technik AG, both from Germany – uses LEDs, glass elements and fibre-optic expertise to illuminate cabins in an energy-efficient manner.
Compared with LED stripes solutions, HelioJet offers a more homogenous light distribution and high light stability.  There are considerably fewer LEDs used; the mean time between failures is five times higher, resulting in lower maintenance costs.
HelioJet is currently in a ‘trial fit phase’ with a major European airline, and FAA/ESAS certification is scheduled for mid-2012.
Supracor – Stimulite Honeycomb
An alternative to traditional foam cushioning in seats and sleep surfaces, US-developed Stimulite Honeycomb provides comfort and support in a low profile, saving more space in an aircraft cabin.
It is a flexible form of aerospace honeycomb that is fusion-bonded.  Stimulite relies on the proven optimum strength-to-weight characteristics of structural honeycomb to provide uniform load distribution at a fraction of the thickness of foam cushions.  Perforations in the cell walls and their flexing actions promote air circulation, resulting in higher comfort.
Stimulite has been commended by the medical and military industries for more than 20 years.  The Boeing 787 Dreamliner and 747-800 aircraft feature Stimulite mattresses in the crew rest and the material is currently being evaluated by manufacturers and airlines for passenger seating.

Greener Cabin, Health & Safety

An entry for this category must either reduce negative effects on the environment, or it must minimise health or safety hazards and security problems for passengers, staff or live cargo.  International legislation is taken into account and high marks are awarded if the innovation does not restrict passenger comfort.
Airbus – Bionic Bracket
French aircraft manufacturer Airbus and Germany’s iLAS – a sector of the Hamburg-Harburg University – partnered to develop this latest product.  The Bionic Bracket combines the principles of nature’s design with ‘additive-layer-manufacturing’.
By reducing the weight by 45%, enlarging the structural stiffness by 30%, and using as much as 95% of the initial raw material, it is currently one of the most eco-efficient aluminium components available.
The Bionic Bracket provides a considerable reduction in both the aircraft’s environmental impact and the airline’s operational costs.  The approach could be revolutionary in the design of customised cabin parts.  The creators also claim that in the future, it may be possible to use the same methodology to create complete airframes, such as the Airbus Concept Cabin.
Diehl Aerospace – DAs Eco-Line All Cabin Lighting
Germany’s Diehl Aerospace provides an all-LED cabin lighting solution with its Eco-Line Aircraft Illumination Platform.  It saves up to 35% in weight, 50% in power and has a longer lifetime for both older and new aircraft.
With prototypes that have now been validated, the Eco-Line platform was developed over two years in response to market demand and the need for eco-friendly technology.  It supports both white and full-colour mode light.
Diehl says that the Eco-Line “does not make compromises on light appearance within the cabin but combines market intelligence with experience.”
C&D Zodiac –  Sidewall & Lining System
C&D Zodiac’s second finalist product, the Sidewall & Lining System is available as both a retrofit and linefit application for sidewalls and ceilings on all commercial aircraft and is now flying on AA 757s.
This eco-friendly product uses thermoformable Composite Aerospace Board, co-developed by Crane & Co and SAVIC Innovative Plastics, as its primary material to reduce energy consumption, waste and labour in the production process.  Over 800kg of CO2 emissions per shipset are eliminated in the system’s life cycle by taking out several steps needed to process traditional composites and making the press process 30 times faster.
The product also reduces acoustic transmission by 9% and is recyclable.