The A350 XWB cabin was revealed to excited customers and the media in Hamburg, Germany on 7 April. But as photographers, journalists and film crews admired the cabin installed on flight test aircraft MSN002, other visitors attended the inauguration of Airbus’ A350 XWB Customer Definition Centre (CDC) – where the airlines will choose their own dream cabins.
The CDC is a unique showroom, located in close proximity to cabin engineering and A350 XWB production activities in Hamburg. The impressive building previously housed Transall aircraft assembly, and it retains the atmosphere of an industrial loft. “It is a highly attractive one-stop shop, designed specifically to support A350 XWB customisation,” says Jörg Schuler, head of centre of competence, Cabin and Cargo. The CDC combines lessons learned from previous programmes and showcases the variety of cabin products offered.
The CDC has 5,000 square metres of presentation and lounge areas spread across two levels. Airline customers and operators can follow an efficient cabin design and definition process with risk-sharing partners, with this close cooperation able to reduce lead times. The CDC allows the customers to see, feel and test real catalogue solutions in individually tailored zones.
The Design Studio is a dedicated space for customers, designers and suppliers to consider and select materials, colours and textures. The variety of materials, fabrics and colours is clustered into seven representative “trim and finish” design themes, such as Smart Tech, New Luxury or Pure Indulgence, developed by Airbus following worldwide market and trend research. In highly functional “play rooms,” in-flight entertainment systems; LED lighting scenarios, with a selection of 16.7 million colour combinations; and galley variants can be compared and selected.
The Inspire Area’s full-scale, fully integrated cabin mock-ups represent the various design themes. They feature the available products in a realistic cabin environment and can be used to show airline customers their configuration choices.
Decision-making starts in the A350 XWB configurator, a newly-developed tool that uses 2-D and 3-D design to let the customer digitally visualise and select all possible cabin layouts, product configurations and options. This virtual process is combined with two real configuration rooms designed to physically mock up different cabin zones by using original seats, simplified doors and sidewall panels with original contrasts or monuments. These rooms allow airline customers to test different layouts and feel how their choices will change their passengers’ sense of volume, space and leg room.
The CDC's operational pilot phase was launched about 15 months ago, and 14 selected airlines have used the unique showroom so far. According to Jörg Schuler, seven customers already have completed their cabin design freeze.