Whether you travel for work or pleasure, it’s become such a part of our lives that it’s no wonder our expectations for comfort and efficiency have taken off. Every year at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Germany, vendors, aircraft manufacturers and design firms from around the world showcase the latest developments in aircraft technology. From making crockery lighter for fuel efficiency to pre-bottled cocktails for a pre-dinner pick-me-up on board, even the smallest vendors at this conference pack a big punch.
So what is new in air technology? What’s really going to make your flight more comfortable? From an app to help nervous flyers to the very real possibility of non-stop Sydney to London flights, here are six things announced at this year’s expo that are sure to make your air travel better in the near future.
QSuite – Qatar Airways
Travelling with colleagues and need to tick some things off the agenda en-route to Europe or the Middle East? Qatar Airways QSuite, designed by London-based group PriestmanGoode, is where you want to book. The television screens in the central seats can be removed to create a four-person private suite for meetings and meals – flying business class is no longer just about comfort, it’s about productivity too.
The QSuite is also customisable so that two suites can be joined to make a double bed when travelling with a loved one. But the best thing about it is that it’s already available on Qatar Airways flights now.
Artificial Intelligence to Calm Nervous Travellers
25% of travellers suffer from nerves when flying, so design firm Smart Design has developed an app called Kite to help ease anxiety and nerves on board. The app is designed to anticipate anxiety triggers and provide assistance like a personal digital companion. The app can connect to communications networks so loved ones can send messages of moral support, it can order you a drink to calm the nerves, alert cabin crew when you might need them the most, and guide you through coping techniques like breathing exercises and mindfulness.
Seat Selection Reality
Forget the 2D seat map and trying to guess where the most leg room might be on the aircraft. Spanish software developer, Renacen, has created software for airlines that gives passengers a virtual 360-degree view of the cabin so you can actually see where you might be sitting when booking your tickets. Now let’s hope airlines adopt this one soon.
The Day and Night Suite – Airbus
It’s not on a commercial aircraft yet, but it’s sure to be soon. This unique premium suite by Airbus features two areas for passengers to move between during flight. The Day area is equipped with a table and window seat for meals, working or reading. The Night zone is home to a lay-flat bed and entertainment system for optimum rest.
Extra Baggage Space
We all struggle with the amount of on board space for cabin baggage, particularly because aircraft seem to have shrunk the size of overhead lockers in recent years. PriestmanGoode – the London firm responsible for the QSuite – have also designed larger overhead lockers that can fit an astonishing eight wheeled suitcases! (Who’s ever seen more than 4 go in?) The complete cabin design, which was created for the A320 family of aircraft, also includes calming LED lighting that helps create the illusion of extra space.
Qantas Sydney to London Direct on the Horizon
Since launching their first direct flights from Perth to London in March, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has challenged Airbus and Boeing to deliver an aircraft that can make the 20-hour journey from Sydney and Melbourne to London direct, by 2022.
Shaving two to four hours off the current journey, which has to stop in Asia or the Middle East, the route will demand improved comfort, from seating and lighting to entertainment and meals. Joyce was quoted at the Aircraft Interiors Expo saying: “We are looking at whether we need our usual four classes, or do we need a new class? Do we include an exercise area? We are seeking ideas that change air travel for the future, and nothing is off the table.”