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Crystal Cabin Awards 2015 © Hamburg Aviation

Industry Showdown At The Crystal Cabin Award

The list of 21 finalists for the Crystal Cabin Award, the "Oscar" of aircraft interiors industry, has seldom been as exciting as it is in 2015, its 9th year

In this year’s seven categories, it’s the big-name heavyweights fighting it out for the internationally coveted prize. In the “Premium Class & VIP” category, the A380 cabins from Etihad and Qatar Airways are competing head-to-head, and two aircraft manufacturers – Boeing and Embraer – are amongst the top three in the “Industrial Design & Visionary Concepts” category. The “Passenger Comfort Systems” category has three technical concepts relating to connectivity in the final round, from Recaro, Lufthansa Systems and ViaSat. The 21 finalists come from a record shortlist of 68 submissions from 18 different countries. They were selected by the 24 high-ranking members of the international jury. As always, the winners will be announced as part of the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2015 on 14 April in Hamburg.

Living Room Comfort In The Air

Particularly successful has been Boeing with two entries amongst the 21 finalists, including the newly developed “Premium Arch” spacious and gently lit entry area for the 777 cabin submitted to the “Industrial Design and Visionary Concepts” category. It is competing against products from Panasonic Avionics and Embraer. The Brazilian manufacturer entered the cabin of its E2 regional jet range. Panasonic Avionics made it into the final with its Jazz seating concept for long-haul economy flights.

While Economy is strong in this year’s Industrial Design category, the Judging Panel’s selection of finalists in the “Premium Class & VIP” category clearly puts another spotlight on the cabin’s “front rows” as well. Two direct competitors, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, are both presenting their First Class cabin concepts for the Airbus A380. The two Gulf carriers launched the flagship aircraft in 2014, but with different concepts. Whilst Qatar Airways offers its premium passengers a spacious on-board lounge, Etihad has used the space to create “The Residence”, a separate three-room suite positioned above First Class. The list of finalists here is completed by Lufthansa Technik. The Hamburg-based company submitted an imodular VIP seat concept that brings the comfort of a living room winged chair to the altitude of 10,000 metres – including a fold-out champagne glass holder, of course.

New Horizons For In-Flight Entertainment

The bulk of passengers, though, is more likely to encounter one of the finalists from the “Passenger Comfort Systems” category, dominated this year by connectivity. The CL3710 economy seat from Swabian manufacturer Recaro includes an integrated 13.3-inch flat screen to provide in-seat cinema entertainment even on the longest of long-haul flights, and even has a port for connecting the passenger’s own smartphone to the on-board system. The growing smartphone and tablet market also inspired the second German finalist in the category, Lufthansa Systems, to develop the BoardConnect in-seat solution. Instead of installing cables and monitors in every seat on the plane, they simply latch a tablet into each backrest and connect it with the on-board entertainment system by wi-fi. US player ViaSat brings bandwidth to the skies with its satellite-based Fly-Fi product, offering 12 Mbps at each seat, and thus enough speed to stream movies above the clouds. The “bring your own device” concept is present in the “Passenger Comfort Hardware” category as well. US-based company Smart Tray made it into the finals by simply and effectively adding a tablet-holder to the folding table at the passenger seat.

More Space And Comfort

The “Space Bins” by Boeing increase locker space for cabin baggage by 50 per cent while using the same amount of space. A modification to the overhead lockers makes it possible for cabin baggage to be stowed vertically. Another smart solution brought SANTO into the final for this category. W:here the narrowing fuselage at the rear of the aircraft normally goes from three to two seats on each side, a special seat is installed, one-and-a-half times the normal width, making use of the normally wasted space. This seat can then be assigned to overweight passengers or divided and assigned to passengers with small children. SANTO stands for “Special Accommodation Needs for Toddlers and Overweight Passengers”.

Efficient Solutions

Efficient solutions also characterise the “Material & Components” category. Dresden’s Fraunhofer Institute made it into the final with a new concept for dropping oxygen masks. Smart FLUOX achieves an across-the-board increase in efficiency of 80 to 90 percent compared to conventional electromagnetic mechanisms. Reliant Worldwide Plastics from the US reached the finals with a thermoplastic carbon backrest. SABIC also made it into the finals with a plastic solution, the transparent LEXAN XHR2000 product. Applications range from windows to surface elements within the cabin, providing interior designers i with completely new possibilities.

Green & Safe

In the “Greener Cabin, Health, Safety & Environment” category, New Zealand-based Phitekis hoping for laurels for its economy headphones. Headphones are one of the most stressed in-flight products, and these have a product life ten times that of conventional models. The “Humidity in Balance” system from finalist CTT Systems results in vast cost savings for the airline combined with improvements to the cabin climate. An ingenious drying system stops condensation of the cabin air as it encounters the cold fuselage structure. As a result, the cabin itself doesn’t dry out so much. Also, the weight increase and stress on the fuselage structure resulting from accumulated condensation are being avoided. B/E Aerospace’s Solar Eclipse promotes its thin solar cell foil. Integrated into the window blind, it enables the passenger to recharge electronic devices in flight. The system is still under development, but the manufacturer is confident about FAA’s approval.

Folding Tables – Tablets Of Tomorrow?

In the “University” category, he three finalists from Germany, the Netherlands, and the USA are competing. Alexandra Moceri from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit convinced the Judging Panel with “Escape” – a screen rail for the seat which can be activated with a simple hand movement, shrouding the passenger’s eyes in darkness. A team from TU Delft in the Netherlands submitted the “Enable” concept, using the surface of the folding table as an interactive display. Marc Spille from the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW Hamburg) already collected the Hamburg Aviation Young Talent Award in 2014. His mobile trash container uses the vacuum technology of the on-board toilet to contract the rubbish bags in the galley to a space-saving format in seconds. His idea was developed in collaboration with Airbus.

All of the finalists’ products and concepts will be presented in the Crystal Cabin Award Gallery (Hall B6, Booth 6C10) at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg (14 – 16 April, 2015). On the second day of the show (15 April, 11 AM), the winners will present their concepts to the public. The official crowning of winners and presentation of trophies will take place the evening before at a formal dinner in the Hotel Atlantic Kempinski in Hamburg.

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On The Crystal Cabin Award

The Crystal Cabin Award is the international prize for innovations in the field of aircraft cabins. A high-calibre jury made up of renowned academics, engineers, specialist journalists and airline and aircraft manufacturer representatives comes together under the slogan “Let your ideas take off” to honour extraordinary cabin concepts and products. The competition was launched by Hamburg Aviation and is organised by the Crystal Cabin Award Association. The award, to date the only one of its kind, has been presented in association with the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg every year since 2007. The trophies have become a seal of quality, known and coveted around the world. Initiated by Hamburg Aviation, the award presents prizes in seven categories: Greener Cabin, Health, Safety & Environment; Industrial Design & Visionary Concepts; Material & Components; Passenger Comfort Hardware; Passenger Comfort Systems; Premium Class & VIP; and University.

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