Aircraft Interiors Expo returns as aviation industry recovery gains momentum

Aircraft Interiors Expo returns as aviation industry recovery gains momentum

After a long-anticipated wait, Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX), the destination for the cabin interiors industry, will return to Hamburg, Germany from 14-16 June 2022 for its first physical event in three years. With growing momentum in the recovery of air travel, the event returns at a critical time to reunite the industry, creating a sought-after opportunity to connect face-to-face and source the latest cabin innovations in person.

Take your place at AIX with a ticket to this year’s must-attend event.

Aviation industry showing signs of recovery

Data published by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) paints an optimistic outlook for the airline industry, with hopes that it has now left the turbulence of the COVID-19 pandemic behind it. The data, revealed an 11% increase in international tickets in recent weeks – the fastest increase for any two-week period since the crisis began. This follows an Oliver Wyman report which revealed that the global fleet is anticipated to grow to 38,100 by 2032 – a compound growth rate of 4.1% over the decade.

Several people look at an aircraft seating arrangement.
AIX offers unparalleled access to aircraft interior products.

Resuming its pivotal role in helping the world’s airlines source the latest cabin innovations, technologies, inflight entertainment and connectivity solutions, AIX will welcome more than 400 aviation suppliers this June. Filling 11 halls of the Hamburg Messe, the event returns at a comparable size to the last physical event in 2019, demonstrating a commitment from an industry excited for the opportunity to network and demonstrate their latest products. Among those confirmed to exhibit, major OEMs, Boeing and Airbus, as well as industry stalwarts such as Safran, Stelia Aerospace, Diehl Aviation, Jamco Corporation, Collins Aerospace, Lufthansa Technik, STG Aerospace, Sabeti Wain Aerospace, Tapis Corporation and Recaro will come together to highlight the emerging innovation and collaboration that is fuelling the aviation industry’s recovery.

In addition, the event’s popular In-flight Entertainment and Connectivity (IFEC) Zone returns to offer attendees a chance to gain insights into the most up-to-date technology solutions covering everything from servers to OTT systems, and 5G to VR from the likes of Astronics, Thales and Panasonic Avionics Corporation.

A person talks to two other people at Aircraft Interiors Expo
Exhibitors showcase their interior products to a global audience at AIX.

Building connections in person

Helping attendees make up for lost time and build a schedule of invaluable meetings ahead of the show, the organisers have announced it will introduce its efficient show planning tool, AIX Connect to Hamburg for the first time. With more than 400 exhibitors showcasing over 1,000 products, the programme will facilitate targeted business connections based on specific product requirements. It is designed to help key airline buyers meet exhibitors during the show to build connections and discuss new projects.

A presenter speaks at CabinSpace LIVE Seminar Theatre
The CabinSpace LIVE Seminar Theatre has a variety of experts speaking.

Also returning to AIX, the popular, free-to-attend CabinSpace LIVE Seminar Theatre will welcome cabin interior leaders to inspire and debate current market trends and challenges. The carefully curated programme will include an industry market outlook from Cirium, Business Aviation panels and insights from innovative start-ups. Attendees can also join the team from Airbus Scale – an innovative unit that brings together corporate innovation, start-up engagement and company building activities to pioneer sustainable aerospace and develop Airbus’ future programs and businesses.  A full programme of topics and speakers will be announced in the coming months.

Providing another reason to celebrate the return of AIX, the CabinSpace LIVE Seminar Theatre will also play host to the winners of the Crystal Cabin Awards – the only international awards for excellence in aircraft interior innovation. Celebrating its 15th anniversary, the awards recognise and honour the very best innovations for the aircraft cabin, spanning eight categories. This includes Cabin Concepts, Cabin Systems, Health & Safety, IFEC & Digital Services, Material & Components, Passenger Comfort, University and for the first time, its new Sustainable Cabin category.

Several people celebrate winning an award.
Crystal Cabin Awards winners in 2019.

Gain a 360° view of the aviation industry

With the world undergoing significant social change, and the aviation sector embracing new business models and revenue streams, attendees can immerse themselves in new ideas and concepts at the Passenger Experience Conference, which returns on Monday, 13 June 2022. Welcoming renowned and acclaimed global aviation leaders, attendees can learn more about how the industry will be building back differently through a wide range of topics from the growing importance of intermodal travel, rapid digitalisation, and sustainability.

Attendees at AIX will also benefit from its co-location with World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE) – which will celebrate its 10th anniversary at this year’s event. Drawing a wider audience to the show, the co-location with WTCE and the Passenger Experience Conference offers attendees a 360° view of the industry, providing a comprehensive platform to identify products and services from all corners of the industry.

Polly Magraw, Event Director, commented: “After three years since the last in-person event, we’re excited to bring the entire industry together once again in June. AIX continues to offer attendees the widest range of innovative products, ideas and solutions in one definitive marketplace. We’re counting down the days until we can once again facilitate the much-needed networking and sourcing opportunities needed to accelerate the recovery of the cabin interior and passenger experience industry.”

Get your ticket to Aircraft Interiors Expo

Take your place at AIX with a ticket to this year’s must-attend event.

The key trends airlines will follow in 2021

The key trends airlines will follow in 2021

Not so long ago the main preoccupation of passenger experience thinkers at airlines was how to get travellers in seats and to keep everyone happy.

That was the old reality, but if any message has emerged from recent trend-spotting reports from organisations such as Euromonitor, Springwise and Trendwatching, consumer awareness and expectations have significantly shifted. Let’s have a closer look at those new expectations.

The brand will be key for airlines

Specifically, customers are predicted to be much more brand conscious regarding those organisations that make positive contributions to the sustainability of our planet and our societies. The need for clean, driven by the pandemic, is here to stay. And the adoption of digital technologies that bridge the physical distance between us will continue to accelerate.

Trends that were just over the horizon not so long ago, are now established fact. Digging into the detail reveals both the need to change quickly and areas of opportunity for the coming year.

An Alaska Airlines aircraft flies over the Golden Gate suspension bridge in San Francisco
Alaska Airlines has announced its commitment to using sustainable fuel. (Alaska Airlines)

The recovery is seen as the chance for a green reset. This is underscored by Euromonitor International’s Top 10 Global Consumer Trends 2021, which advocates a shift from a volume- to a value-driven economy.  “Brands that rebuild a greener and more equitable world could gain not only a competitive advantage but also the necessary social licence, or trust of society, to operate,” it predicts.

Furthermore, this shift is echoed in 5 Forces of Disruption, the 2021 forecast from Re_Set Advisory and Springwise, which highlights that seven in ten consumers intend to make permanent behavioural changes to improve their response to the climate emergency. Quick fixes will not cut it, instead, they must look to make meaningful changes, such as de-carbonisation and elimination of plastics throughout the supply chain. “Sustainability must permeate every aspect of doing business,” state the innovation specialists.

A continued focus on sustainability for airlines

The business opportunities identified in Trendwatching’s 21 Trends for 2021 include transcycling, where brands make use of their waste to enter new markets. Another is carbon labelling, whereby revealing the true (hidden) cost of products will win customer trust and competitive advantage. It cites a pop-up shop launched by Swedish food brand Felix, where items are priced according to their carbon footprint, saying this approach is spreading to restaurants and fashion brands as well.

We all know that ultimately travellers will expect their consumer experiences on the ground to be reflected in the air, so how should the interiors community respond? For some time now SEKISUI KYDEX’s focus has been to ensure that the lifecycle of its products is sustainable and materials are 100% recyclable. As part of the full lifecycle approach, it partners with the Aircraft Interior Recycling Association (AIRA) to implement recycling streams for materials that reach the end of their use.

A British Airways plane flying with forest and farm land below it.
British Airways is aiming to be net zero by 2050. (British Airways)

Talking with Design Director Karyn McAlphin, circular solutions will be the way forward. She goes on to say: “Socially conscious brands will pursue lighter weight alternatives, redesign structures we’ve relied upon for years, and determine how to take things apart at their end of life to upcycle for different purposes. Ultimately, brands viewed as contributing to a cleaner, healthier, more equitable world will gain a competitive advantage.”

Safe to fly initiatives needed across the industry

Reassuring passengers that it is safe to fly by implementing rigorous cleaning regimes, plus investigating antimicrobial surfaces and materials have been key to the interiors sector’s pandemic strategy. What Euromonitor calls safety obsessed (but might be more easily understood as hygiene obsessed) is not just desirable, but as good as mandatory, with customers expecting efficiency and cleanliness.

A worker wipes the seat back screen onboard an airplane seat
Delta has been one of many airlines to show off their increased cleaning protocols. (Delta)

Definitions of wellness will expand to include mental wellbeing, with Trendwatching spotlighting products and services that seamlessly boost mental and emotional health as an innovation opportunity.  Think about it for a moment. Even before the pandemic, stress has been hardwired into the journey for many passengers. How then should onboard environments and services be developed to alleviate that stress and make travellers better informed and so feel more in control?

A touchless future onboard aircraft

Another aspect of the past year’s need for clean has been going touchless. In our everyday lives, card and mobile payments have dominated the shopping experience when we are able to go outside. While air travel initiatives have ranged from Emirates and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) trialling a digital COVID-19 pass to Jamco and ANA teaming up on a hands-free lavatory door.

Jamco and ANA are developing hands-free door handles as part of ‘Project Blue Sky’. (Jamco)

Going touchless complements, the third force for disruption – high-speed adoption of digital technologies. Re_Set and Springwise observe that a comprehensive digital strategy is now essential. In response to the pandemic, businesses have been experimenting with everything from virtual showrooms to social shopping that blends e-tailing with social media. They predict that other content-first strategies are likely to emerge such as using digitisation to drive greater personalisation.

The realms of the physical and virtual are no longer distinct separate entities. Consumers now rely on digital tools for daily activities, with Euromonitor noting that consumers, especially younger people, are indifferent as to whether these activities are physical or virtual; they no longer distinguish between the two.

2021 will still be challenging for airlines

2020 has changed the culture around flying. B2B or B2C, customers and passengers are questioning everything we did before. How the passenger experience community rises to these challenges in 2021 will have a far-reaching impact in the years to come. What is clear is that shape of the industry in 2021 is already looking very different from the way we imagined just a year ago.

Finalists selected for Crystal Cabin Awards 2022

Finalists selected for Crystal Cabin Awards 2022

Hamburg, 5 May 2022: It’s back to the future! The Crystal Cabin Awards returns in-person as the world’s premier event honouring excellence in aircraft cabin design. A jury of 27 aviation industry experts has selected 24 entries for the final round, with the winners to be announced at a special gala dinner on 14 June 2022 at the leading global aviation trade fair, Aircraft Interiors Expo. Eight categories offer a thrilling view on the future of aviation, including new cabin concepts, innovative sustainable technologies, next-generation passenger comfort and pioneering safety features.

Recognising Innovation, Anticipating the Future: Airlines, manufacturers, suppliers and universities among 24 finalists in eight categories

Crystal Cabin Awards 2022

Eight Categories, Eight Arenas for Innovation

  • Cabin Concepts

Every year, the upcoming Crystal Cabin Awards are the focus of intense media activity, including reporting outside the industry press. In the Cabin Concepts category, entries must show innovation in designing interior spaces showing novel approaches that use the given space in intriguing ways. In a cooperation with Finnair, PriestmanGoode and Tangerine, Collins Aerospace submitted one of the year’s most widely discussed entries, AirLounge™. This new business class seat developed for Finnair features seating with a contoured shell design providing passengers more living space and freedom to relax in a variety of sitting or sleeping positions with added privacy. Another entry that provoked wider media interest outside aviation was Teague and NORDAM’s Elevate concept for premium accommodation. Floating furniture is attached to wall braces and combines with inviting materials and contouring to build an organic, homelike space concept that nevertheless allows the same number of seats to be fitted as traditional designs. i4A’s Smart Space 4 Passengers, on the other hand, focusses on maximising comfort options for the economy class. A hinge mechanism built into the seatback allows the seat in front of a passenger to be opened up to the side, allowing access to the seat for use as a leg rest or stowage area. This allows carriers an additional seat charge option should space be available in front of an occupied seat while offering passengers new ways of adding more comfort to their experience.

Crystal Cabin Awards 2022

  • Cabin Systems         

The inspiringly varied entries in the Cabin Systems category in 2022 show how innovation in the cabin can improve air travel in myriad ways: how it can better address important human needs, improve the integration of media displays and even reduce the environmental impact of the whole aircraft. The possibility of sudden in-flight cabin decompression means that aircraft must carry large reserves of fuel to comply with ETOPS standards. Caeli Nova says its new Cordillera emergency oxygen system could save the aviation industry $500m and 1.2m tonnes of CO₂ annually by opening direct routes over high terrain and increasing the duration that aircraft can fly at high altitudes after a cabin decompression from 22 minutes to over 180 minutes, without any weight or maintenance penalty. Designed by Airbus Operations GmbH in cooperation with RECARO Aircraft Seating, Flex OLED Kit is a low-weight, wafer-thin HD display that can be placed anywhere in the cabin, including in seatbacks and ceilings for video playback, ambient lighting or to direct passengers through the aircraft. Seeking to end limitations on flying often experienced by passengers travelling in a powered wheelchair, a consortium comprising Flying Disabled, PriestmanGoode, SWS Certification and Sunrise Medical has designed Air 4 All. The system allows travellers with reduced mobility to slot their wheelchair into a seating space by folding the seat up into the backrest, offering wheelchair users a safe and easy way to travel without being forced to move into a standard cabin seat.

Crystal Cabin Awards 2022

  • Health and Safety

Safety has always been the prime directive in commercial aircraft design. Safran Cabin’s Fire Resistant Cargo Container adds an additional layer of protection against fire involving lithium batteries. Thanks to its high-temperature resistant panels and unique door materials, Safran’s new device can withstand fire for up to 6 hours, the maximum range an aircraft is permitted to fly from the nearest airport during flight. Meanwhile, the Covid-19 pandemic has shown the vulnerability of aircraft cabins to air-communicable pathogens. Developed in a cooperation between Pexco Aerospace and Teague, AirShield uses airflow from existing overhead air-vents to create protective air barriers between passengers. Exhaled air is redirected downwards and out of the cabin to the aircraft’s filtration units. Hypergamut Light™ by Collins Aerospace is a new cabin lighting system attuned to human biology that helps passengers feel more comfortable during and after their flight. Compatible with human circadian rhythms, the system’s architecture attenuates blue light in a unique way that helps passengers relax even with the lights on and fall asleep faster on long haul flights. Blue light is added back in prior to arrival to help passengers arrive alert, all without affecting the quality or appearance of the light and reducing feelings of jetlag. The system automatically adapts lighting to adjust to the aircraft’s flightpath, time of day, and global positioning.

Crystal Cabin Awards 2022

  • Passenger Comfort 

Premium economy seating is one of the industry’s most hotly contested arenas. ZIM Aircraft Seating’s ZIMprivacy seat manages to increase passenger comfort while also prioritising privacy giving more living space and a heightened sense of personal enclosure. The fixed seat back houses a special recline system offering several different body positions. Its fully mechanical assembly is easier to maintain than comparable electrically powered systems. The accelerating trend to a more personal travel experience is mirrored in Personalized Sound Zone by Jamco Corporation and NTT sonority Inc. Using loudspeakers built into the headrest, PSZ creates a spherical audio area around the passenger’s head where playback is heard by the passenger but is inaudible to others in the cabin. The system achieves this without the need for headphones and audio cables by using wave cancellation to ‘build’ a sound stage around the passenger. Collins Aerospace’s SpaceChiller™ offers personal refrigeration for individual passengers or larger parts of the aircraft cabins in a way that was previously not possible using traditional air-cooling technologies. The system provides the luxury of cooled snacks for passengers in a compact device that requires half the power of traditional designs.

Crystal Cabin Awards 2022

  • IFEC & Digital Services       

Digital connectivity is fast becoming a prime concern for passengers who have become used to fast internet access wherever they travel. Anuvu and Southwest Airlines have designed a new system called Dedicated Space, promising a five-fold increase in available personal bandwidth and a dramatic reduction in latency. Along with faster downloads and uploads, passengers are promised more stable inflight connectivity with the new system. Traditionally, IFE is an area where passengers have come to expect less from in-flight systems than from entertainment equipment in their home. Thales Avionics and Harman have cooperated to bring end-to-end 4K video quality to aircraft. Optiq is the first QLED IFE display, providing better resolution, colour fidelity and dynamics range, while offering better maintainability for operators. In another product designed to bring an on-ground media experience into the cabin, ACJ Smart Lifi Monitor puts the customer’s device centre stage by combining a powerful OLED display with mobile processing power. Developed by Airbus Corporate Jets and Latécoère Interconnection Systems, the system pairs with customers’ personal digital devices which can then be used as a remote control. The Smart Lifi Monitor also offers VOD, live television, moving maps, video conferencing and more, making a wider spectrum of digital services and functions available to aircraft passengers.

Crystal Cabin Awards 2022

Material & Components       

The tactile and visual quality of materials and components play a crucial role in passengers’ subjective cabin experience. Thales Avionics has engineered Pulse, a slim, low-weight power supply unit with dynamic power allocation that lets passengers recharge their device on-wing via USB-A, USB-C or wireless charging. Low power anxiety is one of two major concerns addressed by Smart Lock Door, Diehl Aviation’s security device for crew handhelds that allows crew to use digital devices behind a screen mounted in a lockable door to keep tablets safe from theft. Lufthansa Technik’s CabinSHINE maintenance process is designed to make repairing fixtures and furniture up to eight times cheaper and nine times faster than using conventional methods. Offering repair options for a range of cabin surface materials and imitation surfaces, the process helps avoid replacing superficially damaged aircraft furniture by quickly repairing surface blemishes during short overhaul stops.

Crystal Cabin Awards 2022

  • Sustainable Cabin    

Sustainability is the central issue of almost any public discussion about aviation in 2022. So it’s no surprise that the Sustainable Cabin category has become a hotbed of activity, with creative submissions that seek to reduce aviation’s ecological footprint. Recycling cabin plastics, for example, is an attractive but difficult way to lower ecological footprint. In cooperation with AkzoNobel, Rescoll and Roctool, Swedish manufacturer Diab has pioneered a thermoplastics manufacturing process to produce 100% recyclable panels for cabin interiors. The process is faster than methods using adhesive films, with the thermoplastic sheets welded directly to the foam core which, incidentally, offers improved improved acoustic insulation for the finished material. A cooperation between Lantal Textiles and Olivenleder® have come up with Sustainable Genuine Leather, which uses a tanning process based on vegetable oils instead of chrome- and gasoline-based chemicals, with no compromises on haptic quality. But materials hidden from passenger view can also have a sizable impact on sustainability, as proved by Lufthansa Technik AG’s AeroFLAX prepreg. Using natural fibres and a bio-based resin system instead of glass fibre, AeroFLAX saves CO₂ not only as a by-product of weight reduction but also during the manufacturing process itself.

Crystal Cabin Awards 2022

  •  University

The University category is a playing field for imaginative concepts with a clean-sheet approach to a range of issues and situations. Carlos Gatti, student at Wichita State University, has come up with a novel way of accommodating wheelchair passengers. The Fly Your Wheels Suite replaces the front left closet on aircraft like the Boeing 737-800 with a multi-purpose module that can function as a safe parking berth for a wheelchair user during a flight. Rather than taking away existing seating, the idea would let airlines add one paying passenger – the wheelchair user. Jiayi Yu from the University of Reutlingen designed the Shift Cabin Interior, a study that allows operators to configure seats in multiple positions for work or relaxation, both along the axis of the seat as well as to the side. Aside from the advantage of flexibility, the concept lets airlines fit more seats into the same business class space. Ken Kirtland of the Georgia Institute of Technology has high aims with Portal: to create an electric short-haul airline based around an innovative aircraft that emphasises a calmer flight experience at slower speeds and fantastic views.

The Innovations of the Year: Presented in Hamburg on 14 June 2022

The Crystal Cabin Award, an initiative of Hamburg Aviation, is presented in eight categories: “Cabin Concepts”, “Cabin Systems”, “Health and Safety”, “Passenger Comfort”, “IFEC & Digital Devices”, “Material & Components”, “Sustainable Cabin” and “University”.

To win one of the coveted snow-white trophies, the 24 finalists present their ideas in person to the 27 members of the international expert jury. The winners will be announced at a prestigious Gala Dinner during Aircraft Interiors Expo (14-16 June 2022 in Hamburg). The winners will present the winning concepts on 15 June at Hamburg Messe in the Cabin Space LIVE Auditorium. The Crystal Cabin Award Gallery, with an overview of all the finalists, will be displayed at the Hamburg Pavilion, jointly presented by Hamburg Aviation and Hanse Aerospace in Hall B6, Stand 6B90.

Acclaimed industry award – acclaimed industry support

The Crystal Cabin Award is supported by:

  • Platinum Sponsors: Etihad Aviation Group, Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Category Sponsor: Sustainable Cabin)
  • Gold Sponsors: AERQ, Airbus, AVIC Cabin Systems, The Boeing Company, Collins Aerospace, Diehl Aviation, Thales Avionics
  • Silver Sponsors: Ameco Beijing, ATR, Jetliner Cabins, Boltaron Inc. – A Simona Company to Simona Boltaron, TSI Seats
  • Online Sponsors: Sekisui Kydex
  • Crystal Cabin Award Show Partner: Aircraft Interiors Expo
  • Media Partners: Aircraft Interiors International, APEX, Flight Chic, Flightglobal, Future Travel Experience, Inflight Magazine, Runway Girl Network

Join the sponsors and supporters of the Crystal Cabin Award! Information about sponsoring opportunities and packages is available from Lukas Kaestner:

About the Crystal Cabin Award

The Crystal Cabin Award is THE international prize for innovation in the aircraft cabin. A high-calibre jury made up of renowned academics, engineers, specialist journalists and airline and aircraft manufacturer representatives comes together under the slogan “Let your ideas take off” to honour extraordinary cabin concepts and products. The competition was launched by Hamburg Aviation and is organised by the Crystal Cabin Award Association. This unique honour has been presented at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg every year since 2007. The trophies have become a seal of quality, known and coveted around the world.

Take your place at AIX