Hamburg, 3 May 2023: As the aviation industry comes roaring back to the skies, airlines, designers and engineers from around the world are advancing a plethora of new ideas to make air travel more safe, connected and comfortable. The expert jury of the Crystal Cabin Awards has now selected the finalists for the 2023 Edition. The 21 selected entries offer a fascinating view of the future of flying, from innovative seats to next-generation connectivity technology, from air purifiers to economy class beds – and even a Wi-Fi connected facemask for video calls.
Each of these cabin concepts offers an innovative new solution that raises the bar on a different area of passenger or crew experience. Air New Zealand’s Skynest caters for ultra-long haul travel in economy class, offering lie-in bunks that can be booked to help customers recuperate on the longest flights. The integrated Crew Rest Compartment for Single-Aisle Aircraft by Diehl Aviation adds a foldable flat rest space for crew in single-aisle jets, using the crew jump seats as a support. Lufthansa Group has submitted the Allegris system of flexible seating options, letting customers choose from 14 seat types across four travel classes to suit personal needs; premium offerings include double suites and beds with soft mattresses for more comfort.
Cabin Systems, Materials and Components
This year, the Crystal Cabin Awards include an amended category structure, unifying the Cabin Systems with the Materials and Components category. With Q-Tech, Collins Aerospace has engineered an acoustic dampening material that reduces noise transmission from engines, the fuselage and conversations in the cabin more effectively than traditional honeycomb designs. Jump Seat Duo by J&C Aero is a dual-purpose module that integrates a foldable wheelchair within the crew jump seat, letting crew assist passengers with reduced mobility quickly while saving valuable cabin space. Thales Avionics has reached the final three with Onboard Data-Center (ODC), an IT architecture using a system of “blades” that share storage and computing capabilities. Thales says its ODC brings web-based technologies onboard the aircraft for the first time and increases storage space by up to 10 times compared to existing IFE servers.
Health & Safety
Since the Covid-19 pandemic, passengers’ expectations of cabin health and safety has risen to new levels. This year the category shows a new trend, with all three finalists focussing on improved air quality. Pothos is one of three entries by Collins Aerospace to make it to the final round in 2023. The company’s technology uses ionization to purify and de-odour air in the cabin to deliver fresh air to passengers that mimics the air quality of pristine, outdoor conditions. Improving customer wellbeing is also the mission of Sweden-headquartered CTT Systems; its Humidification Onboard Pure Air system adds an Active Carbon filter to existing humidification tech to clean the cabin environment from fumes and ozone introduced via bleed air. Teledyne Controls‘ ACES is the first FAA-certified cabin environment monitoring system that continually measures a range of cabin air parameters including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone and volatile organic compounds.
Adient Aerospace in cooperation with Boeing EnCore Interiors hones in on business customers in single-aisle aircraft, offering a new configuration for long-haul flights that eschews spatial restrictions. The Ascent Front Row Suite removes the overhead bin and orients the seat facing towards the window, adding a desk, minibar and library as well as a flat bed and space to seat a companion. The Airbus A350 Airspace Cabin, meanwhile, is designed to offer more space, choice and flexibility for a wider cross-section of revenue passenger areas. The A350 Airspace cabin provides room for larger galleys, a new flight-crew rest compartment in the upper crown area and a larger forward lavatory on its A350 aircraft. InteliSence by Collins Aerospace uses an array of cameras and sensors as well as deep-learning AI to monitor interactions and collect information around the seat environment with the aim of delivering reliable and predictive information about passengers’ ideal travel experience to airlines and crew.
IFEC and Digital Services
Connectivity in the aircraft cabin is an accelerating trend in 2023, with numerous entries that seek to boost passenger experience when using digital devices. Airbus has successfully placed its Airspace Link HBCplus in the Top 3 for this category, a new high-bandwidth satellite connectivity solution offered both as a line-fit and retro-fit option that lets airlines connect to a choice of Managed Service Providers via a new agnostic terminal and radome. AirFi, coop. Iridium also made it to the final round with its proposed LEO system. It uses a pen-sized antenna housed in the window frame to enable IP connection to the Iridium Certus Low Earth Orbit system, letting passengers to connect to WhatsApp and iMessage, aircraft access ACARS transmissions and airlines validate credit card payments. Finally, Skyted with cooperation partners PriestmanGoode, Airbus Development, the European Space Agency Accelerator Program and ONERA has made it to the finals with an invention that integrates a Wi-Fi connection into a facemask engineered to dampen the noise of the wearer’s speech. The designers aim to combat increased cabin noise generated by future 5G connectivity in the aircraft cabin and the proliferation of video calls.
Minimizing the overall ecological footprint of aviation is an increasing focus of innovators in the aircraft cabin space. Airbus and its cooperation partners Mitsubishi Chemical Group MCG and CTC GmbH made it to the last round with the BioMat Sidewall Panel, a thermoset resin produced from industrial biomass by-products. When used with recycled carbon fibre, the resin eliminates the need for virgin carbon fibre, its developers say. Diehl Aviation has engineered a cabin lining with integrated vacuum insulation, offering a composite structure developed specifically to save valuable cabin energy. The company behind Deep Dyed Carpet, Lantal Textiles, says its digital carpet manufacturing technology can provide ultra-lightweight, visually customized carpeting within days, independent of design, with substantial water and waste savings during production.
The university category highlights the ingenuity of students and their mentors and offers a forum for clean-sheet designs and unusual approaches to passenger experience in the air. This year, the judging panel selected three finalist entries submitted by independent teams from the same university: Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands. The Alba Seating Concept is an ultra-light seating fixture inspired by the biological form of the human spine that uses netting as a seat fabric to lower overall mass. A competing team from TU Delft in cooperation with Embraer submitted Horus, a different approach to low-weight seating designed for use on hydrogen-powered aircraft from 2030 and beyond. The team behind the third entry in the University category in 2023 have designed a 3D printed cushion that optimally supports the human body to provide better seating comfort in a lightweight and sustainable product.
The Innovations of The Year: Live Awards Ceremony on 6 June 2023 in Hamburg
The Crystal Cabin Award, an initiative of the Hamburg Aviation cluster network, is awarded this year in seven categories: "Cabin Concepts", "Cabin Systems, Material & Components", "Health & Safety", "IFEC & Digital Services", "Passenger Comfort", "Sustainable Cabin" and "University".
The finalists will have the opportunity to present their concepts in person to the jury at the world's leading trade fair for aircraft cabins, the Aircraft Interiors Expo (6-8 June 2023 in Hamburg). The winners of the Crystal Cabin Award 2023 will be announced on the evening of 6 June at a gala dinner at the Hamburg Chambers of Commerce.