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The ‘floating’ airplane cabin could be the future of travel

Editor’s Note – Monthly Ticket is a CNN Travel series that sheds light on some of the most fascinating topics in the world of travel. In June, we’ll take to the skies to learn about the latest developments in aircraft interiors, including the people working to change the way we fly.

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

The prestigious Aviation Awards, which recognize innovation and creativity in aircraft interiors, were announced during a ceremony at the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2022 (AIX) in Hamburg, Germany.

Speaking to CNN Travel at the awards show, Crystal Cabin Award Association President Lukas Kaestner said a team of industry experts spent a day interviewing each submission before taking their decision. The judges debated the creativity and ingenuity of the ideas, and also considered feedback from airlines and potential passengers.

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

“Floating” cabin furniture

After much discussion, the 24 finalists, already selected from a long shortlist, were narrowed down to eight winners, with Teague and NORDAM’s Elevate cabin design visualizing a premium cabin filled with “floating” seats, taking first place in the cabin. Concept category.

Speaking to CNN Travel earlier at AIX, the Teague team explained that the idea behind the concept was to “open up more space” in the cabin, by attaching all furniture to a rail connected to the wall. side and aisle.

The idea, Teague’s team said, began when aircraft designers were chatting over a beer in AIX three years ago. Designers and engineers realized they were all facing the same problem: how to free up space in airplane cabins without losing a seat in the process. They began to imagine a solution.

Meanwhile, Collins Aerospace’s concept passenger refrigerator, called SpaceChiller, won the award in the Passenger Comfort category. The Crystal Cabin jury was intrigued by Collins’ claim that the refrigerator would use half the power of traditional airplane refrigerator designs. The fridge’s potential to be made bigger or smaller, allowing a mini version to be placed within arm’s reach of a potential passenger, also appealed to the judges.

Nominees who missed out on the night included Collins Aerospace’s non-reclining business-class seat Airlounge, which premiered on Finnish airline Finnair earlier this year, and Pexco Aerospace’s pandemic-inspired AirShield device, produced in collaboration with Teague, which is designed to improve aircraft looks. flow, creating an invisible “shield” around individual passengers.

Promote innovation

The Crystal Cabin Awards often see some of its most innovative entries appear in the University category, where the next generation of aeronautical designers pitch their vision for the future of flight.

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

Some, like Alejandro Nunez Vicente, nominated in 2021 for his double-decker airplane seat, went on to found their own start-ups.

This year’s student winner is Ken Kirtland of the Georgia Institute of Technology, who imagined a zero-emission electric plane called Portal that would use underused regional airports and fly at low altitudes.

As airline passengers increasingly demand more sustainable options and the industry is increasingly forced to face the harsh realities of their carbon footprint, Kirtland’s design caught the attention of judges from Crystal Cabin.

Portal’s eye-catching interiors also played a part in Kirtland’s win – the idea is that the cabin would feature premium seating scattered throughout the cabin, with passengers able to enjoy stunning views of the sky.

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

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

Winners, Crystal Cabin Awards 2022:

Winning cabin concepts: Teague and NORDAM “Elevate”

Cabin Systems winner: Caeli Nova “Cordillera”

Health and Safety winner: Safran Cabin “Fire Resistant Cargo Container”

Passenger Comfort Winner: Collins Aerospace “SpaceChiller”

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

Hardware & Components Winner: Thales Avionics “Pulse”

Sustainable Cabin Winner: Diab “100% Recyclable Panels for Cabin Interiors”

Winning University: Ken Kirtland “Portal”

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