Especially for economy class travellers sleeping on board of an aircraft is anything but comfortable. A joint project by Airbus and Safran Cabin resulted in an option to add real beds to specific Airbus models.
Challenge: Unused space for extra comfort
Depending on the destination, usually only 50 to 60 % of the cargo space of a passenger plane is used to store the passengers baggage or air freight. The rest is simply empty space that is mostly not utilized at all.
Some airlines have become aware of this issue and eventually approached Airbus to develop ideas to utilize this unused space to provide passengers with added comfort and convenience. In 2018, Airbus teamed up with aircraft interior specialist Safran Cabin to develop a solution that would allow airlines to generate added revenue through innovative space concepts.
Especially the Airbus A 330 is already equipped with a means to access the lower deck of the plane. Presently, only sleeping accommodations for the crew are located there.
Solution: Adding value to airlines and passengers
The Airbus engineering team of the Lower Deck Module project is based in Hamburg. In early 2018, the team started with first drafts outlining ideas for intelligent lower deck usage. The idea was to utilize the partly unused cargo space of certain aircraft models in a way to provide Airlines with new business opportunities while offering passengers added value especially during long intercontinental flights. At the end of 2018, a first mockup of a Lower Deck Module was constructed. During the consecutive months engineering and evacuation tests with passengers were performed.
A presentation to the aircraft industry took place at the 2019 Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg. The concept immediately attracted interest as an innovative solution to turn air travel into an even more comfortable experience. As a result, Airbus and Safran Cabin were awarded the 2019 Crystal Cabin Award in the Cabin Concepts category.
The added lower deck passenger space is realized in the form of flexible modules that are designed for easy installation and removal. The concept was first realized for the Airbus A330, since this aircraft was equipped with a lower deck sleeping compartment for the crew and therefore already offered a means of access to this area.
Each module offers a floor space of 10 square meters which allows the installation of up to 8 beds. A total of 4 modules can be used, resulting in an added space of up to 40 square meters for 32 beds. The modules rest on standard rails the aircraft is already equipped with and can be removed anytime depending on the requirements for a given flight.
Target group of such an added in-flight offer are for example parents who desire comfortable sleeping accommodations for themselves and their children on long distance flights. The offer is ideal for anyone who wants to reach his destination well rested and ready for any planned activity.
Potential: Sleeping, meeting and working during a flight
Concept, design and construction of the Lower Deck Modules are now finalized and can be viewed by potential customers at the Toulouse facilities of Airbus. The company is presently offering the new solution to its customers.
As soon as the first customer decides to include the Lower Deck Modules into existing or new A330 aircrafts, Airbus plans to start the approval procedures which are required for any on-board component developed for an aircraft. About 24 months after such a first-time order, this new feature will then be available to passengers.
Depending on customer demand, Airbus also plans to offer Lower Deck Modules for the Airbus A350. Alternative options for such modules include using them as meeting rooms for business conferences, as office spaces or as a comfortable area for in-flight entertainment.
As of September 2019