Hygiene and comfort to the fore as aircraft interior awards showcase the future of flying

Comfort and hygiene were prized at this year's Crystal Cabin Awards.

Comfort and hygiene were prized at this year's Crystal Cabin Awards. Photo: Supplied

An aeroplane seat actually designed for comfort and a touchless bathroom concept are the two winners at this year’s Crystal Cabin Awards.

The awards, which were held online this year at the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2021, showcase the best of the aviation industries‘ innovations and often lead to big changes in the in-flight experience.

Judged by 28 industry experts, the awards usually include eight categories but this year were slashed to just two because of the pandemic.

It will come as no surprise that many of the entries shortlisted this year focused on two things – hygiene and comfort.

The world’s second-largest aircraft equipment manufacturer, Safran, in partnership with transport technology company Universal Movement, put a new twist on the old economy seat.

The innovative seating concept, called Interspace, took home the Judges’ Choice award.

The seat is designed with two padded wings on either side of the seat that manually fold in and out.

It offers travellers more privacy and a place to rest their head on long haul flights.

Interspace has padded wings on either side. Photo: Supplied

The seat is currently in the manufacturing phase, and the idea is the wings will be able to be retrofitted to existing aeroplane seats.

The wings “give airlines the flexibility to easily reconfigure their economy cabins, providing delineation and privacy between passengers by locking out either the central or outboard seats of a row,” Luke Miles, founder of Universal Movement said.

The seat will also help passengers keep their distance from each other during the pandemic, Mr Miles said.

“We have sought to provide a solution through the Interspace Lite solution that could allow airlines to get back on their feet much sooner than if standard aircraft seating were to remain the same,” he said.

Taking the top gong for the Clean and Safe Air Travel category was Safran’s hands-free bathroom design, Beacon.

By adding a second sink in the aircraft’s cabin and making both automated, the designers say they have created a “​​more open, evidently clean and touchless environment”.

Beacon uses automated water and soap to improve hygiene. Photo: Supplied

The second sink makes it easier for passengers to wash their hands at any time, and will “allow users to satisfy their own individual levels of hygiene, not only within the lavatory but as they share space with others and move throughout the cabin”, the company said.

The Clean and Safe Air Travel category also saw a sanitising light solution for the aeroplane cabin called Lilac-UV make the final list.

The light would sanitise the cabin whenever it was turned on.

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