You Asked, Airbus Listened: The New, Crowdsourced Airplane Cabin of the (Very Near) Future
Your complaints may have improved the design.
For its forthcoming A330neo, Airbus has created a cabin that responds to frequent fliers’ biggest complaints.
If you’ve ever tweeted your frustrations about shrinking seats, dirty airplane bathrooms, or cramped overhead bin space, take comfort in the fact that Airbus has been listening. The aircraft manufacturer has taken into account feedback from millions of passengers for the design of its latest cabin, Airspace by Airbus, which was just unveiled this week in London and will debut commercially when the A330neo enters into service in late 2017. (The aircraft has already seen firm purchase orders from Delta, Hawaiian, AirAsia, and TAP Portugal.)
Here’s what you’ve complained about, and what you have to look forward to.
A More Spacious Cabin
The entire layout of the plane has been rethought. Now, the window surrounds are beveled, the walls have an enhanced curvature, and the seats are the industry’s widest at 18 inches, all for the sake of creating a more open-feeling space. Granted, each carrier will have options to customize these standard settings—and Singapore Airlines is one of the few that has maintained the full width on current Airbus planes with 18-inch-wide seats.
Airbus is debuting a so-called “hygiene lavatory” with a spacious, modular design and all sorts of technological bells and whistles. It bears some similarities to Boeing’s Clean Lavatory prototype: surfaces will be antibacterial, toilets will flush automatically, and discreet aroma dispensers will clear up the air between passengers. It’ll also have whiter, brighter light with options for full-color LED lighting (perfect for overnight flights, when stark lighting is disruptive).
Airbus isn’t taking any seats out of the cabin to give you more legroom, but it is changing the way that seat-back entertainment systems are installed. What does that have to do with legroom? Currently, seat-back entertainment systems require under-seat boxes that cramp up your space, and Airbus is kissing them goodbye.
The redesigned cabin rear, where you’d usually find lavatories and the flight attendants’ pantry, has also released some space throughout the rest of the plane—but airlines will have to choose whether to use it for extra seat pitch or extra seats.
Aside from fourth-generation entertainment systems that offer high-def video content, the A330neo will also have enhanced connectivity features. Airbus has led the industry when it comes to built-in broadband (which debuted on the A350 XWB), and the same system will offer more reliable, high-speed service aboard the A330neo. Consider it one more reason why the days of awful in-flight Wi-Fi are almost behind us.
A System to Fight Jet Lag
Airbus is using ultra-quiet Rolls Royce engines to keep volume down in the cabin, but you’ll also emerge from your flight feeling refreshed thanks to an innovative lighting system. Similar to what exists on the Boeing Dreamliner, the A330neo’s lighting will have up to 16.7 million color variations, which airlines can tailor to the time of day (or their branding scheme). By changing the light from cool tones to warm ones, airlines can stimulate good sleep, reduce jet lag, and enhance passengers’ moods. Better yet, it’s all computer-controlled according to your flight route and itinerary.
Bigger Overhead Bins
Brand-new overhead bins are designed to fit more bags per row—and they’re also easier to access, thanks to a row of soft lights right underneath them. Ideally, this allows you to stow bags closer to where you’re sitting. Even more importantly, it’s meant to cut down on boarding time.