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Boost for Aircraft Interiors as carriers pin their hopes on cabin upgrades

2nd March 2009 - 18:39 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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This year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg is set to attract representatives from more than 140 airlines. The tally reflects a growing trend towards cabin product upgrades as a response to the recession (Inflight Online, February 28, 25, 23, 17).

To take place on March 31-April 2, the world’s top interiors event will see delegations from leading carriers such as American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Delta Air Lines, Emirates and Singapore Airlines walking the floors in search of weight, power and money-saving products.

Amongst their first ports of call should be seat manufacturers Recaro and ZIM Flugsitz. The two German companies will be presenting economy-class seats designed to keep both the airlines and their passengers happy by cutting weight and increasing living space.

Recaro’s Smart Line 3510 for short-haul economy cabins is real featherweight at well below 10kg per passenger. The Comfort Line 3520 for long-haul economy combines improved shin clearance and extended lateral living space with reduced weight.

ZIM Flugsitz will show the latest in its ECO seat range. The long-haul model combines 9in recline, provision for IFE and an adjustable headrest with an extremely thin backrest designed to maximise the passenger’s living space.

Carriers looking for an IFE edge but reluctant to incur the weight penalty of an in-seat solution will find the heading handheld manufacturers showing their wares. Among them will be The IMS Company of California, with the prototype of a new 12in-screen device with storage for up to 450hr of content. Options include a remote-control facility and a credit-card reader.

Airlines looking to give their premium passengers an improvement on the sometimes user-hostile control units found in most seats can be expected to call on Wessex Advanced Switching Products (WASP) of the UK. This specialist in seat and suite controls will debut its new cordless graphic user interface (GUI). Operating like a domestic television remote control, the device features a large touchscreen displaying icons for the control of seat functions and IFE as well as any other facilities that the airline may offer, including shopping, destination guides and connectivity.

Illinois-based InFlight Entertainment Products is looking to save the airlines money on the lights they use to illuminate their in-cabin logos. Many carriers have dropped these useful brand-enhancers, turned off by the short lives and high power consumption of conventional filament bulbs. The US company believes it has the answer in a new range of high-power LEDs that duplicate the effect of today’s bulbs for one-sixth the power while lasting 90 times longer.

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