Safran wins big at Crystal Cabin Awards

Safran has scooped three prizes at this year’s Crystal Cabin Awards, including the one presented by Aircraft Cabin Management (the print magazine published by the owner of for its Sophy trolley in the category, Cabin Systems (pictured above). Airbus, Diehl Aviation, e2ip, Eviation with Almadesign and the University of Cincinnati were the other winners of this year’s globally respected prizes for cabin innovation and on-board products.

Normally, the Crystal Cabin Awards ceremony brings together the Who’s Who of the international aircraft cabin industry for a gala event during the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg. This year, however, in the wake of the Covid crisis, the event for the winners of the 2021 trophies went digital and was streamed live around the world. The finalists of the eight categories learned of their victories on TV and were then brought into the studio directly by livestream. 

High-ranking industry representatives honoured the 24 finalists and their concepts in their addresses as they presented the prizes. In a digital keynote panel, Karen Brock Amoah, VP of strategic planning and business development at Simona, Andrew Litavis, director of aircraft interiors and on-board technology at American airline jetBlue, and Recaro CEO Mark Hiller looked at aircraft cabin trends during the first year of the pandemic.

An electric concept

The future of the cabin was on display in the Cabin Concepts category. Alice, the first purely electric commuter jet from Israeli company Eviation Aircraft, made its debut at the Paris Airshow in 2019. It will carry nine passengers over a distance of up to 1,000 kilometres. The plane’s innovative cabin concept with a fishbone seating layout, created by Almadesign of Portugal, won the trophy presented by Polly Magraw, event director at Reed Exhibitions, the organiser of the Aircraft Interiors Expo.

Another foretaste of flight in the world of tomorrow was provided by the winner of the Visionary Concepts category. Airbus presented its Airspace Cabin Vision 2030, an extension of the Airspace concept, digitally tailoring the cabin to passenger needs and expanding the on-board experience with flexible seating and lounge configurations, providing for example a gaming or family compartment. The trophy was presented by a jury member from Sydney, Qantas Airways’ programme manager of aircraft design and projects, Paul Sweeney .

Material matters

The Material and Components category approached the demands of our time from a very different angle. Together with the National Research Council of Canada, the Canadian victor, e₂ip technologies, presented a panel based on In-Mold Electronics (IME), surface-printed electrical circuitry that saves on complex, heavy cabin electronics. 

The IME control element can be seamlessly integrated into its environment, taking on a range of functions such as the positioning of the aircraft seat. Furthermore, the system is “retrofittable”, making it suitable for a wide range of existing aircraft. This resource-friendly aspect won over the jury. The trophy was presented by Senator Michael Westhagemann, Hamburg’s Minister for Economic Affairs & Innovation, who talked about the growing importance of aviation innovations in view of the current situation.

Green is go

Proof that innovation is often a matter of detail, but can transform air travel was provided by the finalists in the Greener Cabin, Health, Safety and Environment category. Frederic Dupont, VP of technical sales and customer service at platinum sponsor Etihad, announced the deserving winner, Diehl Aviation. 

The company’s Greywater Reuse Unit makes it possible to reuse water from the handbasin to flush the lavatory, rather than tipping precious drinking water down the drain. As a result, the aircraft can carry fewer water reserves, making it significantly lighter. For a Boeing 787, this means savings of up to 550 tonnes of CO2 per year.

The aviation industry is hopeful that people will soon be able to travel freely again. The award-winning Modulair S economy seat concept from Safran Seats lent a boost to that sense of anticipation in the Passenger Comfort Hardware category. 

Developed in co-operation with the French university ENSCI, the seat can be extended with various features, bringing creature comforts such as neck support or a tablet holder to economy class passengers. Jury member and VP of product innovation at Singapore Airlines Yunghan Ng joined the ceremony by livestream from a Singapore Airlines cabin model to present the trophy.

Getting connected

Just as passengers are becoming more and more digitally connected, so are cabin elements. French company Safran Cabin garnered its second prize of the ceremony in the Cabin Systems category with Sophy. This tiny module is integrated into the catering trolley and provides the operator with information on the entire journey of the equipment, from maintenance and cleaning needs to load. Colette Doyle, contributing editor at Crystal Cabin Award’s media partner, Aircraft Cabin Management, joined the ceremony from London to present the award.

The fact that passengers are increasingly using wireless headphones to enjoy on-board entertainment is a challenge for many airlines, because conventional Bluetooth connections fail when demand in the cabin reaches a certain level. Rave Bluetooth helps out in this context, promising uninterrupted transmission throughout the aircraft. This really excited jury member Corinne Streichert, senior manager for IFE and connectivity at United Airlines, who presented the trophy in this category, which went once again to Safran, this time to its Passenger Solutions division.

The same as every year, all finalists were required to present their entries to the international Crystal Cabin Award jury in the final round, but for the first time this was conducted virtually. For entrants in the University category this undoubtedly lent an ‘exam feeling’ to the process. In the end, it was the University of Cincinnati that won the day, having already made it to the final in 2019. 

The coveted trophy was secured by the Coffee House Cabin, a long table for meetings, productive work and coffee breaks. Winner Alejandro Lozano Robledo developed the concept together with the Boeing Company and the Live Well Collaborative. GM of aircraft experience at Delta Air Lines Melissa Raudebaugh, who was chair of this year’s jury, presented the virtual trophy from her company’s head office in Atlanta.

In light of the global Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on global air travel, this year two additional special categories have been added to the Crystal Cabin Awards: Clean & Safe Air Travel and the Judges’ Choice Award. They are scheduled for presentation at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg on 31 August.

The complete awards ceremony is currently available to view on YouTube.



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