Asia-Pacific carriers lead world in cabin innovation
Airlines in the Asia-Pacific continue to lead the world in onboard innovation, cabin comfort and digital connectivity. Read More » As a collective group, they are the largest providers of inflight WiFi for passengers in all classes and are the carriers most prepared to invest in new lighting technology, advances in seating design and flexible digital boarding and luggage retrieval systems.
Global investment in aircraft cabin interiors is forecast to exceed US$2 billion in the next eight years with more than 50% of that sum to be spent by both full service and low-cost Asia-Pacific carriers.
Analysts forecast that narrow body interior retrofits and passenger to freighter conversions will be the largest sectors of the market. In the wide body market, more installation of more sophisticated communications for passenger connectivity will dominate aircraft interiors business.
First class will not disappear, but the size of the cabin is shrinking to suites of four to six or cabins that typically offer four seats. At the same time, selected airlines including Singapore Airlines and the Gulf carriers have added more luxury and privacy to their first class cabins.
WiFi connectivity is replacing hard drive provided content delivered by a seat back screen. Now, passengers can access their own content via an internet connection that downloads to either satellite or ground communication stations.
In the next three to four years, Cathay Pacific Airways plans to fit out its ordered B777-9 aircraft with newly designed first class suites and also equip its regional fleet with improved business class seating.
Singapore Airlines is outfitting its A380 fleet with more personal space in all cabins, six private first class suites, the latest entertainment systems and full connectivity in every seat.
At a cost of US$350 million, the carrier’s initial fleet of 10 B787-10s will have cabins furnished with a full flat bed seat in business class and personalised IFE for passengers in every class of the airplane.
The new premium seats will recline to a 76 inch flat bed and will have a 1-2-1 configuration in the cabin. The 18 inch entertainment monitors will be powered by Panasonic’s eX3 system.
At Qantas, the Australian airline group is collaborating with scientists at Sydney University to redefine the cabin environment. Projects include reducing the impact of jetlag, noise and turbulence for passengers, particularly on ultra long haul journeys.
Another trend in the region is high density low-cost carrier interiors that offer fewer amenities than a standard economy seat. The aircraft are fitted with more and slimmer seats and have a reduced seat pitch to maximize load factor and save on fuel.