With the aim of offering a complete range of commercial aircraft cabin solutions from a single source – starting from the entrance area through to the galley and the main cabin - AVIC Cabin Systems’ senior vice-president commercial, Andres Budo looks at the latest trends and demands associated with aircraft interiors.
Established in 2018, AVIC Cabin Systems (ACS) is a global alliance of specialist cabin interiors companies. ACS offers a complete range of aircraft cabin solutions from a single source, integrating the strengths of AIM Altitude, FACC, Jiatai, Fesher and Thompson Aero Seating. From entrance areas and galleys to seats, monuments and social spaces, ACS designs, manufactures and certifies original equipment and retrofit products for the entire aircraft interior across multiple platforms for the world’s major airlines.
Q) What is driving the types of aircraft interior demands placed on your company by today’s customers?
There is an increasing shift and focus towards single-aisle aircraft for long-range flights. This was taking place before the pandemic, but Covid has accelerated the trend. This means that airlines are looking for products to help give a twin-aisle premium experience within smaller, single-aisle aircraft. In light of Covid, the products put forward also need to aid hygiene and social distancing. Innovation within ACS has been accelerated to deliver a wide range of products in response to these requirements. These include:
Thompson Aero Seating’s VantageSOLO: offers a fully horizontal flat-bed for single-aisle aircraft from only a 33” seat pitch. Under new Covid concerns, the VantageSOLO has direct aisle-access for every seat, which can be configured with either an open aisle end, a fixed privacy screen, or a full-function suite door. This not only offers an exclusive business-class seating experience normally only the preserve of a wide-body cabin, but also greater social distancing. The herringbone configuration of the VantageSOLO locates passengers away from the aisle and therefore minimises accidental contact with passengers and crew who are walking up and down the aisle. When passengers are in the bed position for sleeping, their head is away from the aisle which reduces the likelihood of person-to-person transmission of any germs/infection and improves passengers’ ability to get a good night’s sleep, with fewer disturbances.
AIM Altitude’s ARCA: is a key intervention in the galley-system market that introduces a new, hygienic boxed-meal system instead of set-meal trays. While the concept saves weight, creates space and is environmentally friendly, it is its hygiene credentials that have now come to the fore. Utilising individual sealed boxes for both chilled and hot food, the ARCA system results in minimal handling and less interaction with open food content. The boxes double as closing waste-containers, which aids recycling and diverts waste from landfills, and has the advantage of reducing crew contact with left-over food and used utensils.
The ARCA galley comprises aesthetically pleasing, refrigerated aisle-stowage units, catering for the same number of passengers within a smaller footprint.
Q) What interior sanitising equipment have you been involved with?
PURE CABIN from FACC effectively and sustainably frees surfaces from all types of viruses, bacteria, and fungi. The permanent photocatalytic surface solution by FACC is based on the TiO2-plus metal complex and was developed for line-fit cabin products and retrofit cabin applications. No pre- or post-treatment of the surfaces is required outside the guidance on routine aircraft cleaning and there is no need for a UV light source, as the active component is triggered by the normal cabin light.
PURE CABIN can be applied to all types of surface: laminates, leather, metal, injection moulding, fabrics, and other materials. With no toxic or biocide-based substances, PURE CABIN is completely harmless to health and guarantees that virtually all viruses are eliminated in less than 10 minutes. The PURE CABIN solution is simply applied to the surface after cleaning and left to work for five minutes. A special lamp is supplied to check that all areas have been reached. The effectiveness of PURE CABIN has been checked and confirmed by a professional, standardised ISO procedure, carried out by independent laboratories such as OFI in Vienna. The treatment lasts for at least one year.
Q) Do you sometimes need to almost adopt a ‘Feng Shui’ visualisation of the cabin interior to create the right impression so that passengers feel like they are ‘flying in their home’?
Design trends are definitely evolving. The atmosphere and comfort of an aircraft interior is linked to the aesthetics. In fact, up to 80% of comfort is related to the visual impact of a product’s appearance and styling. In an enclosed area, it is important to keep open sightlines and to give a feeling of space. However, the feel of an interior is also very important. Texture and tactile surfaces are crucial in our perception of comfort and quality.
With two of the companies within the ACS group being established and based in China, ACS is perhaps in a better position than many to understand Feng Shui and to use it to best results. Many of the principles of Feng Shui are instinctively utilised when designing for the cabin environment, such as keeping the design clean and uncluttered, opening areas up, and removing obstacles. This also now fits with many of the hygiene principles associated with the post-Covid cabin.
Q) Is there a particular aircraft interior success story you can share without breaking any non-disclosure agreements?
JetBlue recently unveiled a reimagined version of its Mint experience featuring a bespoke version of the revolutionary VantageSOLO from Thompson Aero Seating: the world’s first fully flat-bed designed specifically for single-aisle aircraft.
An entirely customised version of Thompson Aero Seating’s original Vantage seat, JetBlue’s Mint suites on its current Mint aircraft have been so successful since their introduction in 2014, that JetBlue has entrusted Thompson Aero Seating as its partner for this next evolution of its Mint product. The VantageSOLO was originally conceived by creative design agency Factorydesign for AIX 2015. Since then, it has been developed by Thompson Aero Seating specifically in response to the rapidly emerging medium- to long-range market now being serviced by a new generation of single-aisle aircraft.
Q) What kinds of aircraft interior developments will we be seeing in the future?
With the range of single-aisle aircraft increasing, comfort will be more essential than ever. Creating more space for seating and passenger areas will be paramount. ACS’ innovations reduce the size of the galley area, giving space back to the cabin, enabling the airline to offer a higher level of service, carry more passengers, or to offer existing passengers greater space. In terms of the seats themselves, ACS has opportunities to give economy passengers a much greater level of comfort within the typical existing economy space pitch.
Q) Finally, where to next for your company?
ACS has a couple of exciting launches due very soon. We have been busy working on new technology, using our design and engineering strengths to improve the passenger experience and thereby increasing revenue for airlines. We have several projects where our subsidiary companies are collaborating to offer greater integration of interior products. We continue to work hard to support our long-standing customers whilst also developing new business with some exciting new prospects.
ACS is aiming high. The company’s range of offerings covers the entire cabin interior and, geographically, its bases cover all four continents. ACS has the backing from prominent stakeholders and the vision it requires for a strong and exciting future.