It wasn’t just us in the aviation industry that picked up on the fantastic new tech on display at the Hamburg show this year. Indeed the world’s media wrote, blogged and filmed some of the innovations on the stands.
For example, CNN wrote about Air New Zealand’s cabin bunk beds, and the UK’s Daily Mirror reported on Collins Aerospace InteliSence system (under the dramatic headline ‘Cabin crew could soon track how much booze you drink and cut you off), while dozens of outlets reported on the Chaise Lounge double decker seating concept.
While it is good that the general pubic are taking an interest in these more outlandish concepts, it was the bits that passengers can’t (or shouldn’t) be able to see that piqued my interest. As I come from an automotive background where components are on the whole engineered to be produced as cheaply and quickly as possible, it was nice to come to a show where (for example) items as mundane as fresh water hoses were made with lightweight alloy billet snap connectors.
The over-engineering of parts isn’t done for the sake of it. It is required so that each part can be safely used for thousands of cycles over a period of many years in a stressed environment. When they do fail, they are designed to fail safely.
Alarmingly, several of the people I spoke to at the event said that they knew of companies who were under pressure to cut costs and were making things a little cheaper and a little worse. It isn’t uncommon to meet people at trade shows who will talk down the opposition, and of course all of the components have to be certified for use. With that said, the certification process won’t test the longevity of a part, and I don’t like to think that short term measures have been taken, irrespective of the medium- or long-term problems.