Transdigm explores the critical role cabin hygiene plays in passenger comfort and showcases  some of their newest innovations helping to keep cabins clean.

The recovery of the airline industry is well underway, with recent data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicting passenger numbers will reach four billion in 2024, exceeding pre-COVID-19 levels. With more borders reopening and the summer travel season on the horizon, there are reasons to be optimistic.

But in this new era of air travel, passenger expectations have changed. There is now much greater focus on onboard wellbeing. Recent research found that US and UK travellers are placing an increased focus on cleanliness and hygiene when selecting which airlines to fly. Airlines have been seeking out new innovations and technologies to enhance the inflight experience in line with these higher passenger hygiene expectations.

Naturally, for some passengers, there was anxiety about stepping back onboard post-COVID. But the industry has made significant enhancements to the cabin interior in the last three years, each designed with passenger wellbeing and comfort front of mind. For example, more airlines are adopting antimicrobial materials for all passenger-facing touch points in the cabin, including bulkheads, tray tables, seatbacks and flooring. New innovations, like the TITANXP surface treatment from Schneller (a Transdigm company), are enhancing disinfection routines to ensure the cabin is effectively sanitised between flights, destroying 99.9% of all bacteria on all these cabin surfaces.

Unlike traditional disinfectants, which only kill pathogens during the wet contact time, TITANXP has been shown in tests conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to be effective on both hard and soft surfaces – enabling airlines and cabin designers to innovate the interior without worrying about fabrics or finishes degrading due to exposure to harsh disinfectants.

One of the major pain points for passenger comfort onboard is the lavatory. As narrowbody aircraft come into service increasingly flying long-haul routes, these areas – which are smaller than in a widebody – become messy quickly, leading to a perception of them being unhygienic.

Bathrooms are high footfall areas and the average manual tap in a public bathroom is covered in anywhere between 1,500 and 6,000 bacteria. Airlines – such as flag carriers like All Nippon Airways (ANA) – are kickstarting their investments in touchless technologies for aircraft bathrooms. Another Transdigm company, Adams Rite Aerospace, which won a competitive contract to design and manufacture the cockpit safety door systems following the 9/11 attacks, has built a portfolio of touchless lavatory products – from flush switches and faucets to hand dryers and liquid dispensers – to help airlines meet growing passenger demand for more hygienic and user-friendly bathrooms.

The next generation of cabin products are aiming to deliver a more home-like feel for passengers, built with comfort in mind – both physical and psychological. Hygiene and wellbeing are central to that, and the airlines that invest in innovating these areas now will be the market leaders of tomorrow.

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