More eco-friendly cabin systems is one of the aviation industry’s main requirements in the wake of the global pandemic and AIM Altitude plans to address this with its new ARCA galley set-up. The company describes it as “an immensely efficient galley system that offers enhanced hygiene while giving back space to airlines and increasing sustainability”.
ARCA is said to “redefine the future of aircraft service” with a new boxed meal system. Rather than crew having to handle open meal trays packed with loose components, ARCA consists simply of a hot meal-pack and an accompanying boxed cold meal-pack, which nest securely together. The majority of the contents are safely sealed away in the box. This has “significant benefits for hygiene, passenger confidence and minimises the risk of transmitting infection“, according to AIM Altitude.
The ARCA meal-pack boxes double as closing waste containers. This was originally intended to aid recycling and divert waste from landfills – still a hugely important element – but since the pandemic this also has the advantage of reducing crew contact with leftover food and used utensils.
AIM Altitude is part of AVIC Cabin Systems (ACS) a global alliance of cabin interiors specialists. Elaborating on the new system, Ross Burns, head of industrial design at AVIC Cabin Systems and co-creator of ARCA, said: “We originally developed ARCA before Covid-19. The concept was devised to make aircraft meals more eco-friendly, more easily customised and to save galley space. All of these positives are still achieved by ARCA, but it is also now hugely relevant in enhancing hygiene, helping crew and passengers to maintain social distancing and lessening the risk of infection.”
ARCA can be retrofitted with minimal reconfiguration. Its architecture seamlessly integrates into the existing airframe and central crew areas are easily configured, so familiarity and efficiency are not compromised. Common inserts such as ovens, coffee makers and water boilers can still be used.
ARCA is highly customisable: the galley system itself is adaptable for twin and single-aisle aircraft and the meal boxes can be custom-designed using the latest brand graphics.
Its adaptable nature means ARCA is “future-proof”, says the manufacturer. It can be further configured to allow self- service, snack offerings, or be used as dedicated stowage for special meals. The ARCA core principles are translatable to other platforms such as the A320 and B737, something that will “maximise the true potential of this significant design”, maintains AIM.
The ARCA pack is stackable and has a much smaller footprint than a tray. Meals are stored in an aesthetically pleasing, refrigerated aisle-stowage unit. Boxed in sets of 16, the meals can be easily moved on to an ARCA-designed, lightweight folding trolley for meal service.
ARCA caters for the same number of passengers within a smaller footprint, thereby enabling airlines to reclaim lost space compared to a traditional configuration, enough to allow for an extra row of seats, or a monument feature, notes AIM Altitude. The ARCA design also facilitates the replacement of heavy and expensive trolley equipment, which translates into a beneficial weight-saving offer.
Moreover, ARCA reduces waste: it offers compostable and recyclable packaging to enable zero landfill flights. In co-operation with the catering partner, the meal-pack contents can be customised by passengers. After the meal, the carrier boxes are repurposed into waste containers for recycling and separate compacting.
“Air travel has long been criticised for its carbon footprint, but the sustainability debate has now reached a new level of urgency, along with the need for Covid-secure cabins. We have had great feedback from potential customers, reinforcing our belief that ARCA could be a real revolution in meal service in terms of sustainability, space efficiency and hygiene”, added Burns.
Last September, AIM introduced a new hygienic boxed-meal system for flights operating during the coronavirus pandemic.