These Are the Best Airplane Cabins in the Skies Today
The Oscars of the skies have been announced.
As Hollywood celebrates the best films in the past year, aircraft design award season is also ramping up, with the shortlist of the 11th Crystal Cabin Awards—basically the Oscars of the skies—announced this week.
“After last year’s tenth anniversary awards attracted so much attention for winners and finalists all over the world, the 2017 competition is more international and more hotly contested than ever before,” the organizers stated. “Eighty-five applicants from 21 countries have made it onto the shortlist this time round. This is not just a new record in terms of countries, it is also the third time in a row to see a new record for shortlist entries. Aircraft manufacturers, airlines, suppliers, engineering firms and universities are battling it out to take home this year’s striking white trophies.”
There are eight main categories for the Crystal Cabin Awards: cabin concepts; cabin systems; electronic systems; visionary concepts; passenger comfort hardware; greener cabin, health safety and environment; material and components; and university innovations, which encourages young engineers and designers to dream up the future of flight.
This year’s shortlist includes products flying today, and some we hope will fly soon.
Delta and United are both up for a Crystal Cabin Awards for their new business class products. Delta’s new Delta One Suite, which will be introduced on the airline’s A350 aircraft, is the first fully private suite introduced in this class category.
Delta One Suite
United’s Polaris Business class seat is a newly patented design, exclusive to the airline, which considers the comfort of passengers at all phases of flight, from dining to sleeping, working and entertainment.
Canada’s aircraft maker Bombardier has been shortlisted for the cabins on its new short and medium haul C-Series planes. These feature roomy architecture, large windows, and improved environmental controls, and offer passengers dramatic improvements in cabin comfort. C-Series variants already launched into service during 2016 with Swiss Air Lines first to fly the CS-100 and Air Baltic first to fly the CS-300.
Airbus was shortlisted for a new “Smart Cabin Reconfiguration” option which would allow cabin and maintenance crew to easily change the pitch of seats based on the number of reservations on a flight. On less crowded flights, the last row could be folded away and the other rows spread out giving everyone onboard more legroom.
B/E Aerospace is short-listed for a family-friendly cabin concept, and In-2-Tech has proposed an In-2-Sense digital tray table which could do double duty as a keyboard for your tablet.
Digital Tray Table
F.LIST GmbH is being short-listed for its decorative heated-stone flooring, the first of its kind for commercial aircraft applications.
Mercedes-Benz has a nod from the judges for its private jet cabin developed with Lufthansa Technik.
US-based firm Kestrel is also being recognized for a VIP cabin developed for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, designed to serve as a private jet.
Getting a nod from the judges for sustainability are Zodiac Aerospace for an environmentally friendly aircraft lavatory; the Re-Trolley by Airbus, which allows crew to sort and compress garbage as they collect in the cabin; a robot-trolley by engineering firm Altran which pushes itself down the aisle; and a new self-reporting seat by Diehl Aerospace which will let cabin crew know if you haven’t fastened your seat belt.
Futuristic innovations include a Vision Systems window pane which does double-duty as a touchscreen, projecting information about the flight on the windows; and a variety of new headrest designs which will make sleeping on a plane easier, including the Kickstarter-funded Face Cradle.
There are 10 submissions in the university category this year, with a proposal by the University of Rio de Janeiro for 3D-printing of in-flight meals drawing a lot of attention from the panel.
A jury of 29 industry experts will review this short-list further before deciding on the final awards to be announced during the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg this April.
Last year’s winners were:
Cabin Concepts: Etihad Airways’ First-Class Suite on Boeing 787
Cabin Systems: B/E Aerospace’s Viu Lighting System
Electronic Systems: Lufthansa Systems’ BoardConnect Portable Solution
Greener Cabin, Health, Safety and Environment: Boeing’s Clean Cabin Lavatory
Material and Components: SEKISUI SPI’s Infused Imaging
Passenger Comfort Hardware: Rebel Aero’s Booster Economy Seat Design
University: Delft University of Technology
Visionary Concepts: Zodiac Aerospace’s Lifestyle Cabin