Family-wide innovation from Airbus
From the single-aisle A319 to the double-deck A380 and “Xtra wide body” A350 XWB, Airbus jetliners are designed with an emphasis on passenger comfort – which is why their cabins leverage continuous innovation for more relaxing and healthier flight services around the world.
This attention to the in-flight experience goes back to Airbus’ roots, when it introduced the world’s first twin-engine widebody, and has continued with an A320 Family that continues to set the standards for cabin width; the A380, which provides unparalleled spaciousness and a dramatic reduction in noise levels; and the A350 XWB, which has five more inches of cabin width than competing aircraft, and can accommodate up to 30 additional seats.
Along the way, Airbus has introduced cabin improvements large and small – from its development of new seating and galley concepts to the introduction of handrails moulded into the overhead bins.
A more enjoyable flight
Through constant innovation, Airbus is able to provide passengers flying on its commercial jetliners an unrivalled experience – with innovations that include mood lighting capable of simulating day or night, which is offered to ease the stress of jet lag for long-haul passengers and also helps provide a relaxing ambiance.
Airbus became the first manufacturer to introduce ambient lighting as a factory fit option on commercial aircraft in 2002 – a feature that has since become much more widely adopted across the air transport sector. This innovation took another step forward with Airbus’ A350 XWB – which integrates energy-efficient LED (light-emitting diode) mood lighting, enabling the cabin ambience to be tailored to each airline’s own identity, as well as creating day and nighttime illumination that helps the body adapt to jetlag on long-range flights.
In addition, highly advanced air filters and air conditioning maintain air quality at the highest level by trapping particles and organic matter, while the optimisation of interior contours create additional space overhead and ensures ample shoulder and elbow room for passengers at their seats.
Doing more with less
Airbus also has developed a rear lavatory and galley concept for the best-selling A320 Family of jetliners. Called Space-Flex, this new system replaces an A320 Family aircraft's full-width rear galley with a smaller unit – along with two lavatories that previously were located left and right of the central aisle – making more efficient use of the jetliner’s rear volume. This allows operators to install up to three additional revenue-generating seats or increase the area between seating rows for even higher levels of passenger comfort.
By applying the Space-Flex configuration, the two lavatories plus galley can now be efficiently accommodated in the aft cabin area, with advantages that include freeing-up space for more passenger comfort and maximising the cabin’s revenue space; offering two lavatories that are larger than those on competing aircraft; and providing a full PRM (persons with reduced mobility) lavatory for the first time in a single-aisle aircraft. The “PRM-friendly” lavatory is facilitated via a simple conversion process: two single Space-Flex lavatories are convertible into one PRM enclosure in a similar manner to those delivered on Airbus widebody aircraft.
As of September 2012, Airbus had received Space-Flex orders to equip more than 101 A320 Family aircraft.
All Airbus jetliners can be fitted with individualized in-flight entertainment systems that provide passengers with access to a wide range of high-quality audio and video programmes, as well as live satellite television broadcasts, outside views from landscape cameras and more. Integration of the latest generation in-flight entertainment platforms into the seat preserves passengers’ legroom and also gives them the ability to connect their own personal electronic devices – including portable media players and digital cameras – to the screen in their seat.
Through its OnAir subsidiary with SITA, Airbus also has helped pioneer groundbreaking technology that offers airline customers simultaneous access to mobile phones and high-speed Internet in-flight – a major breakthrough considering the global popularity of multi-functional smart phones.
Each OnAir-equipped aircraft carries what effectively is a Wi-Fi “hotspot” and a miniature GSM base station, which are connected to the ground via satellite link – creating a “pipe” that carries digital information. The ground station then sends information into the normal GSM and Internet ground networks. This new technology shares the connection provided by the data link with cockpit traffic, while keeping a single SATCOM antenna on the aircraft – an arrangement that required certification.