The organiser of the Crystal Cabin Awards has revealed the shortlist for its two new special categories, Clean and Safe Air Travel and the Judges’ Choice Award.

    Amongst the finalists in the former category are ideas for innovative antimicrobial coatings such as the ion technology from Sekisui Kydex, which can be applied to all plastic and sanitary surfaces. The treatment, directly incorporated into the thermoplastic, also enables the surface to better withstand daily cleaning.

    The UV Disinfection Wand from the Boeing Company, in collaboration with Etihad Airways, Healthe Inc and FarUV Technologies, also promises thorough cabin disinfection. This portable wand eliminates up to 99.9 per cent of viruses and bacteria on cabin surfaces by means of 222-nanometer UV light, an approach to cleaning said to be not only significantly quicker but also gentler.

    Air circulation within the aircraft cabin has been a major topic of discussion in the context of Covid-19. Villinger, the shortlisted entrant behind the CleanAir cabin air purification system, takes up the fight against unwanted passengers such as pathogens and pollutants, down to the size of atoms. Ionising micro-electrodes are used in place of standard filters.

    Paradigm change for a new experience of flying

    In the course of 2020, a whole row of concepts was presented, aimed at making social distancing possible in the aircraft cabin, including the omission of some seats. In view of the reality that flying still has to be worthwhile for the airlines, British design agency PriestmanGoode has submitted its Pure Skies concept for economy and business class, whereby cabin configuration and materials facilitate distancing without sacrificing load factor.

    Staggered seating, personalised space for cabin baggage, and clip-on folding tables, disinfected and handed directly to the passenger from the trolley, are just some of the concept’s features.

    Delta Air Lines delivers on its promise to passengers of a new standard with the shortlisted CareStandard rulebook for hygienic travel, from check-in to baggage reclaim. The US airline is drawing on its particularly early response to the challenges of coronavirus, such as implementing a comprehensive test strategy for flight personnel and extensive cleaning and ventilation concepts.

    On the safe side with data

    FTI Engineering Network from the Berlin region shows how artificial intelligence can make safe air travel possible. The Smart Cabin concept includes an expansion of camera-based support for flight attendants: in the future, AI could be implemented to automatically recognise masks and, with infra-red cameras, to check passenger health.

    Hygiene can even be entertaining, as Hamburg’s ZAL Centre for Applied Aeronautical Research shows with its submission, entitled ZAL Clean Fun – Gamified Handwash Hygienics.The passenger’s handwashing routine is analysed by artificial intelligence, with the hygiene level reported in a game-like way on the lavatory mirror.

    Aurora, from HID Human Interface Design GmbH and VeCtor GmbH, provides the passenger with a digital assistant. The app bundles available real-time data on queues at the gate, the passenger’s health condition, and the hygiene status of the seat.

    Once the passenger is seated, Be Safe – Build Trust from AerQ GmbH makes travel as free of contact as possible with features such as QTouch, enabling the passenger to control the in-seat display with hand gestures, and QSound, providing the passenger with an individualised sound bubble without headphones.

    At the judges’ discretion

    Innovative cabin concepts promise more comfort and unique experiences in every seating class. This year, for the first time, cabin innovations can also be shortlisted for the special Judges’ Choice Award category, promoting a new start for the industry.

    Toyota Boshoku has developed a cabin concept, for example, designed to give a genuinely positive boost to the economy travel experience. Positively Economy combines three economy classes in one, from the innovative eco-seat at the window to the personalised premium economy and premium plus middle seats with more space and privacy.

    Collins Aerospace and PriestmanGoode, meanwhile, have produced passenger comfort with the experience of a first-class suite for Aeroflot. Designed for the A350, Horizon Premier fulfils business-class passenger needs such as privacy, thanks to a door, and plenty of storage space in a small closet.

    Also shortlisted for the Judges’ Choice is the economy class Sky Dream from ADSE, reminiscent of interrail travel, but with a good helping of increased comfort. Overhead lockers above the central seating block on long-haul airliners make way for loft beds, and baggage is simply stowed under the seat.

    Ideas for inclusive air travel

    The focus is not only on safe and clean travel; other challenges, too, are being addressed more strongly than before. Several ideas for inclusive, barrier-free air travel have made it on to the shortlist for the Judges’ Choice Award special category, such as Airportainer from Airbus Operations GmbH. The cargo storage unit facilitates the safe and efficient transport of private wheelchairs without them taking up space in the cabin during the flight.

    FACC AG and its cooperation partners FH Joanneum, Netwiss, Raltec research group, Rodlauer Consulting, TU Vienna, FFG, and BMVIT are also aiming to make an aircraft that is more accessible to everyone.

    On short and medium-haul single-aisle aircraft, the lavatories are not really barrier-free, because the space for toilets is limited by the demand to maximise seating capacity. Lav4all promises a 100-per cent barrier-free aircraft toilet, available for retrofit in airliners from A320 up to wide-body, with new interior features in terms of arrangement, design, and colour, along with maximum passenger autonomy thanks to sufficient space and a wider door.

    AirGo Design has also submitted a concept for a barrier-free toilet on medium and long-haul routes, responding to the increasing deployment of single-aisle aircraft on these routes. With the Space concept, the company aims to deliver 43 per cent more space and dispense with the need for the flight crew to help passengers get in and out of their wheelchairs.

    Expanding the comfort zone

     Alejandro Nuñez Vicente from Delft University of Technology demonstrates that there is still plenty of room at the top and that students can compete on an equal footing with companies. His Chaise Lounge economy seat concept makes use of the cabin height, elevating one row of seats and then placing the next row lower again, creating more space. Flexible seat inclination further supports passenger comfort.

    “Comfort through flexibility” is the motto behind the Interspace concept from Safran Seats in association with Universal Movement: padded wings run along the full length of the seat, which can be folded out of the backrest as needed and provide both headrest and privacy. The fact that this option can be retrofitted made it a favourite with the jury.

    Last but not least, VantageSolo from Thompson Aero Seating has been specially developed for medium and long-haul single-aisle aircraft, providing a completely flat horizontal bed with direct aisle access for every seat, something normally only seen in wide-body cabins.

    The winners of the special categories will be announced at a digital ceremony taking place around the virtual Aircraft Interiors Expo that is being held from 14-16 September.

    At the end of March, the Crystal Cabin Awards postponed from 2020 due to the pandemic took place virtually, with Safran scooping three prizes; other winners included Airbus, Diehl Aviation, e2ip, Eviation with Almadesign and the University of Cincinnati.