Airlines like to add passengers, but passengers bring baggage and need equipment to look after them, placing greater demands on internal aircraft cabin space.
Jose Pevida, senior vice president engineering & product development at HAECO Americas, says there is a fixed volume in any aircraft and that aircraft cabin space is precious. In 1Q17, the company won an RFP from Airbus for a ceiling stowage compartment for the Airbus A320 Family.
Up to three can be fitted in the A318/319/320, and four in the A321. It is available in two volumes and provides space for life rafts, emergency equipment and other service supplier stowage needs, that would otherwise have to be put into the overhead bins.
This way, it can liberate up to 25 per cent more bin space for passenger luggage. It is certified to meet all regulatory requirements, and is available for line-fit at Airbus, as SFE, or as a retrofit option through an SB on most aircraft (the cabin configuration on earlier aircraft is different, and so the compartment would have to be adapted to fit).
The company and OEM built on their experience and worked closely on the engineering required to incorporate the compartment into the aircraft structure, as well as the development of a damping mechanism for safe opening by the crew, incorporating control rates for both force and speed.
He says the company is constantly looking at opportunities to create customised stowage areas specific to a particular airline or for a particular aircraft model. Some of these are located on seat tracks, behind seats, while others are combined with cabin dividers or galleys and lavatories.
He says the introduction of ultra-long-range passenger operations is opening up new possibilities. In entry door areas, modules can be installed that transform themselves in flight into new functional areas, such as a bar to make a social area for passengers.
These can include closets and overhead bins. He expects to be able to show some of these concepts at AIX 2019. He comments that even with the XL bin being introduced, which increases capacity by 40 per cent on A320 Family aircraft, there will still be a need for storage.
For example, the A321neoLR may require extra portable oxygen bottles for some ETOPS operations, and there may be other cases where extra equipment is needed, such as for wifi. Of course, the designs under development are applicable to both Boeing and Airbus aircraft.