A “floating” cabin may be the journey of the future

Editor’s Note – Monthly Ticket is a CNN Travel series that puts the spotlight on some of the most fascinating topics in the travel world. In June, we take to the skies for a look at the latest developments in aircraft interiors, including the people who are working to change the way we fly.

Hamburg (CNN) – A design for “floating” aircraft furniture and a cabin concept that can give each passenger their own personal refrigerator are among the winners of this year’s Crystal Cabin Awards.

The prestigious aviation awards, which highlight innovation and creativity in aircraft interiors, were announced at a ceremony at the 2022 Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg, Germany.

The president of the Crystal Cabin Award Association, Lukas Kaestner, spoke to CNN Travel during the award ceremony, saying that a team of industry experts spent a day questioning each submission before reaching a decision. The judges discussed the creativity and ingenuity of the ideas, and also assessed reactions from airlines and potential passengers.

Not all of the finalists’ products are on the market, or nearby, says Kaestner. Many are still just concepts. But “the underlying question for most jury decisions” is, he explains, “Does anyone have a realistic chance of flying?”

‘Floating’ cottage furniture

After much discussion, the 24 finalists, already cut from a long shortlist, were reduced to eight winners, with Teague and NORDAM’s Elevate cabin design, which visualizes a first-class cabin filled with “floating” seats, which takes the top spot in the cabin. Concept category.

In a conversation with CNN Travel earlier on AIX, the Teague team explained that the idea behind the concept was to “open up more space” in the cabin, by attaching all the furniture to one track that is connected to the side wall and the aisle.

The idea, the Teague team said, started when aircraft designers talked about a beer on AIX three years ago. The designers and engineers realized that they all faced the same problem – how to free up space in aircraft cabins without losing seats in the process. They began to find a solution.

Meanwhile, Collins Aerospace’s passenger refrigerator, called the SpaceChiller, took the award in the Passenger Comfort category. The Crystal Cabin jury was fascinated by Collins’ claim that the refrigerator would use half the power of traditional refrigerator designs. The potential of the refrigerator to scale up or down so that a mini version can be placed within reach of a potential passenger was also a draw for the judges.

Nominees who missed the evening include Collins Aerospace’s non-recurring business class seat Airlounge, which premiered on Finnish airline Finnair earlier this year, and Pexco Aerospace’s pandemic-inspired AirShield unit, produced in collaboration with Teague, which is designed to improve the flight air. flow, creating an invisible “shield” around individual passengers.

Promote innovation

The Crystal Cabin Awards often see some of the most innovative contributions appear in the university category, where the next generation of aviation designers give their views on the aircraft of the future.

Kaestner told CNN Travel that it’s always exciting to see where former nominees in this category end up.

Some, like Alejandro Nunez Vicente, nominated in 2021 for his double-decker seat, have yet to find their own start-ups.

This year’s student winner is Ken Kirtland, from the Georgia Institute of Technology, who dreamed of a zero-emission electric aircraft called the Portal, which would utilize underused regional airports and lower altitude aircraft.

As air passengers increasingly called for more sustainable alternatives, and the industry was increasingly forced to grasp the stark realities of their carbon footprint, Kirtland’s design caught the eye of Crystal Cabin judges.

Portal’s eye-catching interior also played a role in Kirtland’s victory – the idea is that the cabin will have first-class seats scattered around the cabin, with passengers enjoying a sweeping view of the sky.

For Kaestner, the University category summarizes what the Crystal Cabin Awards are all about.

“We want to promote innovation and just create or drive the discussion about passenger experience,” he said.

Winners, Crystal Cabin Awards 2022:

Winner cabin concepts: Teague and NORDAM “Elevate”

Winner Cabin Systems: Caeli Nova “Cordillera”

Winner health and safety: Safran Cabin “Fireproof loading container”

Winner Passenger Comfort: Collins Aerospace “SpaceChiller”

Winner IFEC & Digital Services: Anuvu coop. Southwest Airlines “Dedicated Space”

Winning material and components: Thales Avionics “Pulse”

Wins sustainable cabin: Diab “100% recyclable cabinets for cabin interior”

Winning University: Ken Kirtland “Portal”