Singapore Airlines has upgraded its Airbus A380 cabin after an extensive development programme.
The nose-to-tail redesign was introduced in December on the first of five new A380 aircraft that remain on order, initially operating to Sydney. It will also be retrofitted on the existing fleet of 14 aircraft. This represents an investment of about $850 million.
The current fleet operates in two configurations:
- Six suites and 76 Business Class seats on the upper deck, plus 44 Premium Economy Class seats and 343 Economy Class seats on the main deck, for a total of 469 passengers.
- 86 Business Class seats on the upper deck, plus 12 Suites, 36 Premium Economy Class seats and 245 Economy Class seats on the main deck, for a total of 379 passengers.
In comparison, the new layout has 471 seats in four classes, featuring six Singapore Airlines Suites and 78 Business Class seats on the upper deck, as well as 44 Premium Economy Class seats and 343 Economy Class seats on the main deck.
The new suites have been designed by the Pierrejean Design Studio and manufactured by Zodiac Seats UK. They are located in the forward upper deck, aft of two lavatories, one of which has a sit-down vanity counter.
Entrance to the suite is through a sliding door. There is a 76in bed with adjustable recline that can be folded away for extra space. A privacy divider between the first two Suites on each aisle can be retracted to provide a double bed.
A separate 21in wide leather chair that swivels between 135º and 270º, with a recline of up to 45º, is upholstered in leather from Poltrona Frau and is fully adjustable using an electronic control side panel that can accommodate a variety of sitting and lounging positions.
Storage space includes a full-sized personal wardrobe, customised handbag stowage compartment and an amenity box lined with soft leather. Each suite also has a 32in Full HD monitor that can swivel for the different viewing angles in seat and bed modes. The finishing touches are a specially designed carpet and a feature wall with mood lighting.
Business Class takes up the rest of the upper deck, in a 1-2-1 configuration at 50in pitch. It has been designed by JPA Design of the UK, a long-term collaborator and manufactured for Singapore Airlines by JAMCO Corporation of Japan. The colour scheme is described as modern yet organic, featuring a selection of leather and fabrics, in addition to lightweight carbon composite materials.
Composites have been used for the seat surround and base structure, allowing for better optimisation of the seat, particularly to incorporate space for a full-size cabin bag under the ottoman, with an adjacent space for a laptop bag or handbag.
A lack of overhead bins in the centre grants the cabin a more spacious feel. The thinner shell has been made larger, to create a cocoon-like experience for more privacy. Every seat has direct access to the aisle.
One aspect of the new design that was not made entirely clear by the airline is the double beds. The publicity suggested that every centre row double could be converted, but in reality, it is only the three bulkhead seats – Business Class is divided into three mini-cabins.
At the front of each, the centre seats are parallel, allowing them to be converted into a double bed by fully lowering the privacy divider. These seats also have a larger shroud to provide more seclusion. The ottoman and baggage space is cut into a monument (also from JAMCO) that contains cabin crew storage space.
The other double row seats are angled outwards, with the ottoman offset, which provides more living space. The privacy divider has three roughly equal segments. The top segment, at head height, can be retracted into a sleeve by passengers, leaving the screen at just above eye level. The next two stages, down to fully retracted, are carried out by cabin crew, using two latches to release the panel.
The 25in wide seat (also upholstered by Poltrona Frau) has two side wings for better back support that fold back as the seat reclines directly into a 78in full-flat bed. Customers may also stretch out fully in a ‘sun-deck’ position to watch movies on the 18in HD touch screen monitor.
Other features include a business panel equipped with USB ports and in-seat power; two reading lights with adjustable brightness levels, located for sitting and reclining; mood lighting inside the shell, with a ‘feather’ pattern that shows through the padding; an enlarged table designed for flexibility in dining positions; as well as stowage space for personal amenities.
Premium Economy comes with a 19.5in wide seat with an 8in recline and a seat pitch of 38in. It was manufactured by ZIM Flugsitz and customised by JPA Design, including leather covers on the seats finished with decoratively crafted diagonal seams.
There is a 13.3in Full HD monitor as well as a calf-rest and foot-bar for every seat, individual in-seat power supply, two USB ports, personal in-seat reading light, cocktail table, and more stowage space for personal items. These seats are also being supplied to Singapore Airlines for Boeing 777-300 aircraft.
The Economy Class seat is the CL3710, designed and built by Recaro. This will also be fitted to the airline’s Airbus A350 and Boeing 787-10 aircraft in 2018, with a total of 18,000 having been ordered.
The highly-customised seat back and special padding ensure exceptional passenger comfort, while there is more legroom, an ergonomically-designed footrest with adjustable positions, plus a six-way adjustable headrest with foldable wings.
An 11.1in touch screen monitor eliminates the need for handsets. Other features include an in-seat power supply; a patented non-intrusive reading light; an amenity holder for a mobile phone or eyeglasses installed underneath the monitor; a vanity mirror integrated into the back of the tray table; and a coat hook.
In addition to the main literature pocket, there are also separate pockets for personal items. The seat also features a more contemporary fabric cover design.
While the Panasonic Avionics eX3 IFE system will be retained, it will be upgraded and redesignated myKrisWorld, reflecting a greater degree of personalisation.
This includes passenger log-in at their seat; playlist, bookmark, language preference storage and wallpaper customisation between flights; customised and personalised entertainment spotlights; popular, trending and recommended content; and exclusive content based on frequent flier tier.
This is achieved using passenger analytics.
Before the flight, passengers can use Singapore Airlines’ app or website to preview content and set up their customised playlist. Once on board, they can either synchronise their mobile device or log-in at their seat to access their pre-selected content.
Crowdsourced data will offer up alternative titles that are popular. It can ask passengers if they want to finish the movie that they started on previous flights. It can also make recommendations based on passengers’ individual habits and what content is trending inflight at that moment in time.
Business Class customers and passengers travelling in Suites will have access to additional inflight entertainment content choices, and those in Suites will also be able to control the lighting in their private cabin and save their lighting preferences for future flights.
Inflight broadband connectivity will be provided by Inmarsat GX Aviation system, offered through SITAONAIR, currently available on selected Boeing 777-300ER aircraft in the airline’s fleet.
For the 14 retrofit aircraft, the work will be carried out in Singapore by the airline’s MRO subsidiary, SIA Engineering Company. However, Services by Airbus will be responsible for Service Bulletin and aircraft cabin parts-kit delivery.
Its teams will also contribute their A380 design knowledge and engineering expertise to integrate SIA’s customised cabin fittings into the interior. The retrofit work is expected to start in late 2018, with all 14 aircraft scheduled for completion by 2020.