Innovative designs for aircraft cabins are the hallmark of the Institute for Wide-Body Open-Rotor (WBOR), Design und Entwicklung Hamburg GmbH which recently moved to the Centre for Applied Aviation Research (ZAL). WBOR has won several awards including the Crystal Cabin Award in 2010 for its Highly Integrated Flexible Lavatory (HILA) concept for an aircraft lavatory suitable for people with limited mobility. The lavatory’s flexible components mean there is enough room for someone in a wheelchair in the same toilet space. HILA was developed in collaboration with Airbus and the aviation supplier Diehl.
New cabin for Boeing 717
WBOR Design and Development Hamburg LLC emerged from the Industrial Design Studio. Professor Werner Granzeier set up the company in 1984 as iD Studio specializing in innovative approaches to transport design and creating fresh solutions for aircraft cabins and cockpits. Granzeier expanded the portfolio which now includes diverse solutions for aircraft, ships, cars, railway vehicles, corporate identity, light design and CAD. Designers conceive entire aircraft cabins, cockpits, seats, toilets, high-speed trains, boilers, clothes hangers and even shoehorns.
One of IDS’s finest hours was designing the cabin for the twin-engined McDonnell Douglas MD 95, an improved version of the older DC 9 airliner. Boeing took over the project upon the acquisition of McDonnell Douglas and put the aircraft into production as the Boeing 717 using Granzeier’s cabin design. “At the time, we had built the mock-up in Hamburg, and then had it tested in Long Beach by 1,200 people,” Granzeier recalled. Mock-ups are original-size models with functional components such as seats and are a regular part of the design process. IDS examined the mock-up of the 717-cabin for its ergonomic quality as well as its suitability and comfort for passengers.
Focus on human beings
Ergonomics play an important role in designing transport solutions. People must be able to move around the aircraft safely and get to their seats and to be able to leave them, for instance, to go to the toilet. Evacuating the aircraft swiftly and safely in the event of an emergency is also a must. Nevertheless, many safety rules have to be taken into account. “At the core of design work is the focus on the human being,” said Granzeier. This involves looking at the various groups e.g. senior citizens, youngsters, children and people with disabilities that limit their mobility. To this end, WBOR (renamed in 2015) always carries out practical trials with parallel mock-ups and computer simulations. “The idea is always tested in a 1-1 scale mock-up,” said Torsten Kanitz, Manging Director of WBOR. The finished concept must be economically viable for the customer. “At first, we always do an extensive market analysis,” said Kanitz. “We look at the number of cabins. You can plan very differently for a lot of ten cabins compared to 800 cabins per year,” Granzeier noted. Each project stays with the experts until series production starts. All CAD data is passed onto customers on completion.
Cabins for famous manufacturers
IDS was initially based in Jork south of the Elbe River and moved to Hamburg-Altona later. In 2015, IDS became the “Institut für Wide-Body Open-Rotor” (WBOR), Design und Entwicklung Hamburg GmbH”. Granzeier has since left, but still works for WBOR as a consultant. Over the years, WBOR has devised numerous cabin designs including the concept for the failed Dornier Do 728jet airliner, the Chinese ARJ 21 and C 919, Bombardier’s CRJ 900 and the Sukhoi 100. In collaboration with the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), the firm has also created design concepts for the Next Generation Train, a future high-speed train. WBOR also provides full-service solutions for VIP aircraft or high-end yachts.
ZAL’s networking potential
Kanitz and Granzeier hope to add co-operating partners and potential customers to their network following the move to ZAL where many of Granzeier’s graduates work. Apart from his work as a design consultant, Granzeier lectures at the Department of Automotive Technology and Aircraft Engineering at Hamburg’s University of Applied Sciences (HAW) and at the University of Technology (TUHH). The company is now turning to new designs for aircraft cabins, sustainable production, 3D printing technology and the demands of Industry 4.0. The firm is likely to remain busy in future as passengers’ needs are becoming increasingly individualized putting ever more challenges on designs.