Registration Is Now Open for AIX 2023

Registration Is Now Open for AIX 2023

Visitor registration is now open for this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) and co-located World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE), which will take place from 6-8 June 2023, at Hamburg Messe, Germany. Register today and join the global cabin interiors and onboard services community.

Creating the cabins of the future, together

Aviation and rail professionals from across the globe will be able to view the latest products and services from the cabin interiors and onboard services supply chain. Across the three-day show, attendees can touch and test the latest products and services from across:

  • Seating
  • In-flight Entertainment and Connectivity
  • Aircraft Manufacturer
  • Big Data and Analytics
  • Cabin Management Systems
  • Fasteners
  • Lavatory & Waste Equipment
  • Galleys & Galley Equipment
  • Lighting / LEDs
  • BizJet Refurbishment and Interior Design

and much more.

600+ Suppliers, 1,000+ Products

Representatives from key airlines will be joined by leading suppliers including Acro Aircraft Seating, Thales, AJW Technique Interiors, Telesat, ViaSat, Thompson Aero Seating, STELIA Aerospace, Panasonic and KID-Systeme GmbH.

They will be joined by a number of first-time exhibitors including 9T Labs, Lamberts London, SkyFive, Pariani Srl, Hughes and many more.

AIX Connect

With the return of AIX Connect, attendees can pre-schedule meetings with new or existing business connections, receive personalised matchmaking recommendations, discover new contacts, and arrive at the show with an organised schedule.


AIX’s IFEC Zone will return to halls B2-B4 to bring all the hardware, software, digital tools, connectivity solutions and content services together that will help airlines to deliver highly desirable consumer opportunities to their passengers.

Passenger Experience Conference

The Passenger Experience Conference (PEC), taking place the day before AIX will return, hosted at CCH – Congress Center Hamburg to offer a programme of conference sessions covering sustainability, passenger experience, revitalised transport modalities and repurposing onboard materials and their effects on the industry.

woman speaking at cabin space live with projector

CabinSpace Live

CabinSpace Live Seminar provides a dedicated theatre at Aircraft Interiors Expo to discuss the cabin of tomorrow and beyond. Gain insights from industry thought leaders and fellow peers as they share experiences and case studies to help you source solutions and elevate your business strategies.

Informational sessions will cover IFEC, cabin interiors, business jets, sustainability, accessibility, and more across the three days of the event and are free to attend.

VIP Programme

If you are an employee of an airline, leasing company or BizJet operator, now you can unlock the benefits of being an AIX VIP, including:

  • VIP AIX Connect Access for upgraded access to so you can network and arrange meetings with exhibitors and other VIP industry peers before the event.
  • VIP Lounge Access with a place to relax, work or network away from the show floor. Lunch, snacks and refreshments are available throughout the event.
  • Dedicated VIP Entrance to skip the queue and access the Airline Club Lounge from 8 am on show opening days.
  • VIP Digital Gift Bag with exclusive deals, giveaways and promo items.
  • Discounted Rate for PEC to gain valuable insights into the industry and help shape the future of passenger experience.

Register today for AIX

To register for your pass to attend AIX, click the button below.

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.

Take Your Seats to the Future of Sustainable Aviation

Take Your Seats to the Future of Sustainable Aviation

Aircraft seating is one of many areas of the aviation industry’s decarbonisation initiatives and its modest profile belies its importance. Seating is a microcosm of the business as a whole and what’s happening at the airline seat level informs how other segments of the aviation interiors industry might approach the climate emergency.

Transitioning to sustainable aviation fuels and innovating alternative power sources will inevitably create the initial big wins by reducing the direct emissions of aircraft. But there are even more significant long-term reductions to be made by lowering emissions that the airline is indirectly responsible for – and this is where seating and the cabin interior fit into the picture.

According to estimates by aviation analytics specialist Cirium, total CO2 emissions from scheduled passenger flights worldwide totalled 804m tonnes in 2019. Emissions fell dramatically during the covid pandemic, but reached 728m tonnes in 2023.

This year, Cirium projects that emissions will exceed the 2019 high by around 10m tonnes – based on published airline schedules.

Cirium’s Senior Director, Market Development, Andrew Doyle explains: “The highest ever single month for emissions was July 2019 and this previous high-water mark is currently expected to be exceeded in July 2024.”

He adds: “Having said that, overall efficiency has improved as airlines progressively take delivery of latest technology aircraft. Cirium expects a decline in CO2 per available seat kilometre of just under 4% for 2024 compared with 2019. However, this of course highlights the scale of the task the industry faces to reach ‘net zero’ by 2050.”

The consensus vision

What then does sustainability look like for the players in the seating sector? There is a broad consensus from aircraft manufacturer to designers, from seating OEM to seat cover specialist, that reducing weight is a big first step, but shifting to regenerative and circular models for manufacturing and doing business is where far greater gains can be derived over the longer term.

Ingo Wuggetzer, Vice President Cabin Marketing at Airbus sums up: “The seats represent one third of the cabin weight. Therefore [the] number one priority is to reduce the current weight of the products, followed by a more efficient seat layout and last, but not least, a new design philosophy: parts you can repair and with material that you can re-use or recycle.”

Elina Kopola, Co-Founder and Director of the Green Cabin Alliance (GCA) adds: “To move away from a linear process of ‘take, make and dispose’ to a ‘waste-free’ regenerative process will be the next big impact for our industry. It will take huge shifts in systems thinking for many industries, including our cabin interiors industry, to achieve this.”

doy design aircraft seatingdoy design aircraft seat back

Essential to realising this goal will be harnessing data and tracking the impact of the choices made across seat development and lifecycle. Gary Doy, Managing Director of Doy Design, explains: “One of the core challenges is we have to understand and qualify the positive impact we can achieve by making certain product, operational and business choices for our future aircraft seats.”

Recaro Aircraft Seating regularly performs life-cycle assessments on its products and CEO Dr Mark Hiller says: “From supply chain to the final assembly line, companies must analyse each part of their value chain to ensure all practices are sustainable. Simply focusing on the product’s weight during flight will fall short of many sustainable goals.”

Materials innovation

One outcome of Recaro’s life-cycle assessments is the R Sphere seat concept. This was created with lightweight and recyclable materials such as cork, wood, fishing nets and cactus with the goal of developing a model to collect and track feedback that will help Recaro make its future products more sustainable.

Hiller says: “The R Sphere raises awareness that aircraft seating and sustainability aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. Seats that are designed with disassembly and recycling in mind will accelerate our journey towards a sustainable future.”

Over the next few years, we can expect to see the seating sector increasingly focused on innovating materials, manufacturing and business methodologies that will support a circular economy transformation.

Recycled leather specialist Gen Phoenix, in collaboration with aircraft seat cover manufacturer Sabeti Wain Aerospace, says it has developed aviation’s first fully closed-loop circular dress cover that can be completely recycled at the end of its life into new dress cover material.

Gen Phoenix Chief Innovation Officer and General Manager Seating, Nico den Ouden explains: “Through a take-back programme Gen Phoenix will collect and recycle the airline’s waste to create the next generation of aircraft seat covers for their customers, with no compromise to performance or customer experience.”

Alternatives to fossil fuel-based materials are a critical area of focus. Designer Daniel Clucas, Founder of Studio ID and a member of the GCA Leadership Board, observes that work on bio-based, plastic-free, lighter weight and recycled materials is underway in almost every sector.

He says: “There are now databases available containing material sustainability information – allowing appropriate choices to be made at the design stage.”

Airbus C-Suite

Airbus Head of Creative Design, Paul Edwards agrees: “In the next few years we hope to see more bio-based materials implemented into seat covers and structure….For example, in our C-Suite [business seat concept] mock-up we investigate the use of algae as [a] base material for the seat foams.”

He goes on to say: “Other technologies that are not far from being a reality are 3D printing and 3D knitting. Both allow our industry to reduce the amount of waste generated in the production phase, but also contribute to the reduction of weight, which is essential for the aircraft operation phase.

“Beyond seat design and materials, we need to leverage the power of digital solutions such as Internet of Things [self-diagnosing] devices to make seat maintenance more efficient, and high bandwidth WiFi onboard that would eliminate the need of installing in-seat inflight entertainment (IFE) in some operations.”

Doy Designs Ultra Slim Seat

Existing materials such as aluminium, can also play “a significant role” in the next generation of seat according to Gary Doy. Doy Design’s 6.6kg Ultra Slim Low Carbon economy seat concept reduces the carbon footprint of its material content by 70% through the inclusion of recycled materials such as the aluminium monocoque backrest.

“Aluminium is readily recycled,” he says, “And we use high quantities of common aircraft grades in the production of seats today, especially for the primary structure….Defining a path for recycling, re-certifying and re-using aluminium in the aviation sector will make a difference.”

Ingo Wuggetzer at Airbus says circularity and material efficiency must be further facilitated by reducing the number of materials used. He adds: “Another aspect is modularity and space efficiency. Seats must be suitable for different aircraft types so [that] passengers have a consistent experience and airlines reduce the complexity of their parts inventory and lower development effort overall.”

Simplifying business class

Business class seating by its nature is heavier and feature rich, but the environmental impact can be lessened using similar principals. Noting that Recaro has one of the lightest business class seats on the market, Hiller explains this is achieved by keeping part numbers/variants to the minimum and using high performance composites such as carbon/glass fibre components for larger surfaces.

He adds that a modular design approach “enables seamless replacement with lightweight options or removal of unwanted features…thereby reducing the overall weight of the seat.”

Simplifying some functionalities helped Airbus offer the potential of significant weight savings for its C-Suite business seat concept. Paul Edwards observes: “We envision a business class seat that is mechanically actuated and that doesn’t have an in-seat IFE screen. With such an approach we could achieve weight savings of around 30% compared to benchmark seats.”

He continues: “Beyond the seat structure, we would like to ensure all materials we selected are recyclable or biodegradable. Those features combined with digital customisation have a great potential to improve the environmental footprint of business class seats.”

Innovating circular and regenerative products implies an equally strong emphasis on innovating business models. The GCA’s Elina Kopola explains: “The challenge…is to establish a new economic framework for this regenerative process. For example, we need to establish [a] robust supply chain for recycled raw materials for many substrates like polymers, aluminium, and textiles.”

That means understanding how to capture the materials as they come to the end of their useful life to circulate into further incarnations.

Gary Doy says: “This moves us towards material passports and accountable owners who have a responsibility and commercial interest to recycle and make the best use of these resources.” He concurs that focusing on the end-to-end lifecycle of seats and materials, as well as measuring the overall cost of the system, will drive more sustainable processes.

“We need to move the incentive away from a revenue system reliant on spare parts and heavier cost optimised solutions to one focused on reducing the operational impact of the seat.”

The move to greater circularity and sustainability will be an ongoing and iterative process. Changes to seating are probably going to be more disruptive in terms of money and time resources than the business and airline customers would like, but far from fearing these disruptions, we need to start making them part of the business proposal at every level.

And, if we return to the idea that seating is a microcosm of the business as a whole, disruptions will be likely to be going on throughout the business. Managing this plethora of change is, inevitably, the nature of modern aviation.

As the focal point of contact between the passenger and the aircraft, the seat is the most immediate way for travellers to visualise and fully understand the environmental impact of their travel choices. In the future that may mean rethinking the offer as well as streamlining the space.

doy_designs_4 aircraft seating in rows
Doy Designs Ultra Slim Seats

Gary Doy of Doy Designs predicts: “We could see airlines delivering comfort and space without the frills of inflight meals and other buy-on-board products that add weight.” His vision removes the meal tray table to be replaced by a simple docking system for carry-on meals purchased in the terminal.

He adds that taking out the galley, associated carts and buy-on-board would not only provide additional weight reduction, it would free space for a larger rear lavatory to support passengers with restricted mobility.

Modern luxury travellers are prioritising conscious consumption and increasingly looking for more sustainable ways to travel without compromising passenger experience, according to Gen Phoenix’s Nico den Ouden. “We believe that sustainable solutions will become the luxury choice of the future,” he says.

GCA’s Daniel Clucas adds higher budgets for business cabins provide scope for innovation. “Generally more sustainable materials and processes are still more expensive, and so there’s an opportunity in business class to push the boundaries and be more experimental.

The same principles apply as in economy, and you could argue that fewer materials, simpler design with less complexity can also be viewed as more luxurious – think residential interiors or even car interiors.”

AIX Prepares to Take Cabin Concepts to New Heights at 2024 Edition

AIX Prepares to Take Cabin Concepts to New Heights at 2024 Edition
black wall display with airline seatbelt fasteners

Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX), returning to the Hamburg Messe, Germany from 28-30 May 2024, is set to provide the world’s leading platform for airlines and cabin interiors professionals across the global supply chain to shape the cabin concepts of the future. 

The global aircraft cabin interiors market is experiencing a surge, with a projected CAGR of 6.81% from 2024 to 2032 (WhaTech). This growth correlates to a renewed demand for international travel, with recovery rates notably highest in the Asia-Pacific region (Pacific Asia Travel Association). Against this backdrop, AIX will offer attendees unmissable opportunities to explore the latest innovations and network with exhibitors.

Trends taking off in 2024

The 2024 edition will welcome  thousands of visitors and senior airline buyers, all looking to source products and solutions for the cabin of the future. Featuring most of the world’s biggest names in the aircraft interiors industry, the show promises to offer unrivalled networking as well as learning opportunities through dedicated speaker programmes.

Already confirmed to attend are representatives from the world’s top airlines, including American Airlines, United Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, Air France and EVA Airways as well as Southwest Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, EL AL Israeli Airline, Air Transat and Air New Zealand.

At this year’s event, increased adoption of eco-friendly materials, exploring lighter weight alternatives, and implementing innovative design strategies to minimise the environmental impact of air travel, will all be on display from the likes of international leaders, Zotefoams, Expliseat, and Muirhead.

aircraft seat displays

Sustainability continues to be a focus actively seeking solutions to reduce emissions and optimise fuel efficiency, featuring eco-friendly and weight-saving solutions from leading companies like Teledyne, Simona Boltaron, and Crystal Cabin Award Winner 2023, Lantal.

Improving the passenger experience for both leisure and business travellers remains a top priority for all elements of the supply chain. With the latest advancements in inflight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) playing a key role in aviation interiors, AIX will showcase exhibitors pushing the boundaries of Wi-Fi and entertainment systems.

Here, companies exhibiting at AIX for the first time, including Rosen Aviation and Stellar Entertainment, will join several global leaders, including Astronics, Thales, Panasonic.

Finally, AIX’s BizJet offering continues to grow, with refurbishment, interior design and completion products and services all on display. Equipment developer and supplier, Aerospace Technologies Group and aerospace service provider Fokker Services Group will among those showcasing their latest innovations to serve the business jet market.

Immerse yourself in innovation

AIX 2024 is the hub of innovation within the industry, bringing together over 400 exhibitors totalling a combined range of more than 1,000 products for the aircraft cabin interiors market, with brand-new solutions and partnerships set to be announced across the three days.

Attendees will be able to meet and engage with industry leaders and rising stars, including over 20 new exhibitors to the show such as PINET INDUSTRIES, DAHER, Optimum Aero, Peter-Lacke, COMI, and SABENA TECHNICS.

Teledyne will bring its award-winning ACES® Cabin Air Monitoring System which reduces operational costs for airlines. Specialists in thermoplastic materials, Simona Boltaron offer lightweight cabin interior applications, while Muirhead will display its LightCore™ leather range which is 33% lighter than standard leather.

Lantal provides an alternative approach to sustainable cabin seating materials, with its new natural leather using wet-green® tanning process to reduce water consumption during the manufacturing process.

The event will recognise the importance of inclusivity and accessible travel, featuring leading companies like Airchair and Operational Aviation Solutions. Airchair’s lightweight and compact transfer system assists passengers with reduced mobility when boarding and disembarking.

row of cream airline seats

Meanwhile, Operational Aviation Solutions will debut the world’s first functionally touchless lavatory door, demonstrating advancements in accessibility.

Exhibitors ACM and Avital will present solutions that enhance comfort and satisfaction to encourage passenger wellbeing. ACM’s interactive meditation app and Avital’s passenger monitoring system exemplify the industry’s recent commitment to creating holistic and enjoyable travel experiences.

Additionally, SCHOTT will demonstrate how flexible lighting solutions contribute to a comfortable cabin environment to relax passengers.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to connect with industry newcomer, Swiss consulting service provider, Adequate Swiss; sustainable interior design experts, Avalon; 3D printing technologist, Materialise; and textile manufacturers, Vandewiele. Each will showcase their unique offerings as they contribute to the growing market.

Leading the way in connectivity

The ever-evolving In-Flight Entertainment & Connectivity (IFEC) market, projected to reach USD 6.1 billion by 2026 with a 5.2% growth rate (MarketsandMarkets), will again take the spotlight at AIX 2024.

The dedicated IFEC Zone will enable visitors to easily find the latest advancements, designed to elevate the passenger experience. This year, the zone reflects the industry’s growing focus on LEO satellite solutions, offering airlines and passengers the potential for higher bandwidth, lower latency, and a seamless in-flight experience.

Over 50 exhibitors will gather in the IFEC zone, including industry leaders like Hughes, Eclipse, and Telesat LEO. These companies are at the forefront of developing and deploying innovative connectivity solutions, leveraging both GEO and LEO satellite technologies to ensure reliable and efficient in-flight internet access.

aix-power-unit in display case

Furthermore, Aeroplay will demonstrate how it delivers tailored content for airlines, while ThinKom will showcase its advanced antenna solutions.

Also joining the IFEC Zone, newcomer Gladi8tor, alongside partner Inflight Media Digital, will present its gaming entertainment ecosystem for the modern traveller, and Airfi will offer its 2023 Crystal Cabin award-winning LEO connectivity solution.

Dive deeper into industry topics

CabinSpace Live, the show’s dedicated speaker theatre, will offer visitors opportunities to hear and learn from the industry’s most experienced leaders and experts.   

The first day’s programme, curated by media partner HMG Aerospace, will explore key industry topics through several sessions including Cabin environment: achieving the ultimate ambiance and wellbeing for passengers, In-flight entertainment: a captive audience, and Cabin refurbishment: investing to impress.

Day two, co-curated by aviation analytics specialist, Cirium, and media partner Real Response Media, will host panels and presentations touching on current trends in cabin interiors, including sessions: ‘An MRO perspective on elevating aircraft cabin interiors’ and ‘The use and impact of predictive maintenance on aircraft cabin refurbishment’.

Celebrating the leading designs

The Crystal Cabin Awards, one of the most coveted awards for industry professionals, will take place on the evening of the first day of the show, 28 May 2024. The recent shortlist announced 72 products spanning the eight award categories and demonstrated the strides the industry is making to deliver sustainable aircraft with a seamless, comfortable experience for passengers. Winning entries will be also presented at CabinSpace Live the following day.

cabinspace live theatre attendees and speakers sat down

The destination to learn and collaborate

The renowned Passenger Experience Conference, taking place one day ahead of AIX on 27 May 2024 at the Hamburg Messe, will bring together experts and visionaries from airlines, airframers, OEMs, the global supply chain and design organisations to discuss the overarching theme, ‘Innovating tomorrow’s travel experiences’.

Experts from Air Canada, Airbus, Orson Associates, Gen Phoenix, Doy Design, Flying Disabled, Omnevo, Delta Air Lines, Boeing, Icelandair, and more will be collaborating to solve the frustrations and respond to the needs of the new cohorts of travellers who will be flying into the next decade.

Attending delegates can join thought-provoking discussions and panels, uncover emerging and exclusive insights regarding future direction for passenger experiences, and help evolve the vision for the cabin of the future.

The 2024 edition of the conference will feature three streams, ‘Future Now’ will discuss the changes to the passenger experience already in progress. ‘Future Connected’ sessions will dive into how aviation can navigate the ever-competitive travel landscape, how data and technology can ease the way and create opportunity, as well as how innovations across different travel systems can inspire fresh ideas.

Lastly, ‘Future Efficient’ will examine how airlines and supply chain partners can boost profits, streamline processes, and reduce costly wastage while delivering desirable value and quality of experience to passengers.

Among those confirmed to speak, Christopher Wood, Flying Disabled, and Roberto Castiglioni, Reduced Mobility Rights, will join a representative from Boeing to discuss initiatives improving the inflight experience for travellers with disabilities.

Meanwhile, Michael Raasch, Chief Executive Officer, Omnevo; Kolbrun Ýr Jónsdóttir, Product Manager Inflight Service & Experience, Products & Service Management, Icelandair; and Kevin Clark, CEO Bluebox Aviation will be joining a conversation on the potential of artificial intelligence to revolutionise inflight experiences.

group talking at standing table

With the broad range of sessions covering future-forward industry topics, delegates will leave the conference feeling inspired and a with a clearer vision of the next decade of travel. The Welcome Party, following the conference from 18:00, will also offer invaluable networking opportunities, by bringing together the industry under one roof – tickets are also available to non-conference delegates.

Making connections in advance

All show attendees can streamline their experience and maximise investment into the show with AIX Connect, the show’s online planning tool. The platform offers personalised matchmaking recommendations and search tools to schedule meetings ahead of the event. In 2023, AIX Connect facilitated over 3,400 meetings across the three days, ensuring a productive show for all.

three people sat at table

Polly Magraw, Event Director, Aircraft Interiors Expo, said: “We look forward to welcoming the industry in Hamburg in May to highlight exceptional passenger experiences, upcoming interior insights, supply chain partnerships, and cabin expertise.

AIX remains the only show where the biggest airlines and members of the supply chain come together to discuss cabin interiors, and with 2024 expected to be a year of growth for businesses, we are delighted to play a supporting role in that.”

Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) returns to the Hamburg Messe from 28-30 May 2024 in Halls B1 – B7. It will follow Passenger Experience Conference (PEC) on 27 May and is co-located with World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE), which can be found in Halls A1 and A4.

Together, the events provide passenger experience professionals with a unique opportunity to identify new products and solutions throughout the cabin. Something your AIX badge allows you free access to WTCE across the 3 show days.

Registration for Aircraft Interiors Expo 2024 is now open:

Dreamliner Fleet Leaders Approach Retrofit Sweet Spot

Dreamliner Fleet Leaders Approach Retrofit Sweet Spot

Cirium is proud to be the Official Data Partner of AIX 2024.

Photo - James Mellon.1024 1

By James Mellon, Senior Aviation Data Research Analyst, Cirium

The first wave of Boeing 787-8s to enter service are now over a decade old; their airframes need heavy maintenance, and several airlines have recently announced accompanying cabin retrofit programmes. James Mellon, Senior Aviation Data Research Analyst at Cirium, draws on Cirium’s unique data insights to analyse this emerging market opportunity.

Although regarded as a brand-new aircraft type, the Boeing 787 has been in commercial service since 2011. The oldest 787-8s have therefore been operating for well over a decade, and not only have they reached the point where their airframes require their first structural maintenance checks – they are prime candidates to undergo cabin refreshes too.

Several airlines have recently revealed their 787-8 fleets will be retrofitted with new cabins over the next few years. However, these will not be the first examples to undergo major interior updates, as we can explore using Cirium’s recently launched Ground Events analytics tool.

Since October 2019 Cirium has tracked 18 cabin retrofit events, involving 787-8s operated by All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan Airlines (JAL) and United Airlines.

United Airlines recently refreshed its entire widebody fleet with its new ‘Polaris’ business class and introduced ‘Premium Plus’ premium economy cabins. Ground Events Analytics shows all 12 of United’s 787-8s visited HAECO’s facility at Xiamen – Taikoo Aircraft Engineering – for the work to take place.

Boeing 787-8 cabin retrofits graph

Source: Cirium Ground Events

In Japan, where the first 15 787-8s were delivered in 2011-12, the type is being used to launch new airlines. Low-cost carrier Zipair Tokyo was established by JAL in 2019, with the initial fleet comprised of the parent airline’s oldest 787-8s. Airframe maintenance checks and cabin retrofits were undertaken prior to transfer, introducing a higher-density layout with capacity increasing from 206 to 290 seats.

The Zipair Tokyo fleet has since been supplemented with two factory fresh 787-8s, but due to Boeing pausing 787 deliveries between June 2021 and August 2022, both aircraft arrived later than originally planned. To meet increasing post-pandemic travel demand, JAL transferred over additional second-hand 787-8s to Zipair, requiring the same cabin retrofit work as previous aircraft.

Ground Events analytics show that the six Zipair 787-8s were retrofitted both in-house and by third-party MRO providers at three different facilities.

ANA launched AirJapan in February 2024, which like Zipair operates medium-haul low-cost services with older 787-8s transferred from the parent airline. Five more aircraft will be retrofitted with all-economy cabins and placed into service during 2024.

The -8 was the initial variant of the 787, and 165 were delivered over a two-and-a-half-year period before the first stretched and longer-range 787-9s entered service.

In-service Boeing 787-8s by year of build bar chart

Source: Cirium Fleets Analyzer

There has been a recent spate of airline announcements regarding 787-8 retrofit programmes. In many cases old seats will be replaced by new units to achieve commonality with new-build aircraft.

Cirium fleets data shows seven 787-8s have been permanently withdrawn from use. In addition to four prototypes retained by Boeing, two former Norwegian airframes were parted out in 2023, and another airframe which was never delivered to an operator is being cannibalised.

There are 383 787-8s in service and 11 in storage, while over 1,100 787s of all variants have been manufactured to date. The type’s order backlog of nearly 800 units – which includes a relatively modest 48 firm commitments for the 787-8 – means production is assured well into the 2030s.

New widebodies are being manufactured and delivered at a slower rate than airlines want to acquire them. This is making second-hand aircraft desirable, increasing their value, and therefore with the intention to operate them for the long term the business case for cabin retrofits becomes justifiable.

Six airlines have recently announced their 787-8s will undergo cabin retrofit work in the next few years. Central to these upgrades are new seats, in-flight entertainment and internet connectivity systems, which in some cases will result in the interiors matching other, typically younger, widebody types operated by these carriers.

787-8 market share by seat OEM for in-service aircraft piechart

Source: Cirium Fleets Analyzer

Having launched its new ‘Club Suites’ in 2019, British Airways (BA) will start installing the Collins Aerospace-manufactured business class seats into its 787-8 fleet in 2024. The old 2-3-2 seat arrangement makes way for a 1-2-1 configuration, improving accessibility with direct aisle access for all passengers. Together with upgrades to other cabins and the addition of wi-fi, these aircraft will then have interiors corresponding with their newly delivered counterparts, 787-10s and Airbus A350-1000s. The upcoming 787-8 work follows on from retrofits to BA’s 777s fleet, which were performed at BA Maintenance’s facilities in Cardiff, Cirium’s Ground Events analytics shows.

Ethiopian Airlines is enlisting Adient Aerospace to supply lie-flat Business class seats for its 787s. Although the airline has not announced which aircraft will be retrofitted, Cirium’s Fleets Analyzer shows the airline operates 10 787-8s featuring angled business class seats, with 150 degrees of recline and arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration. These aircraft are Ethiopian’s oldest 787-8s and were delivered between 2012 and 2014, before the latest-generation business class seats with privacy doors in a 1-2-1 configuration were widely available.

Not all of the upcoming retrofits will see premium cabins change to a 1-2-1 configuration. Jetstar plans to retain its seven abreast seat arrangement, but as premium travel demand has grown it will increase the number of seats in this cabin from 21 to 44. The Qantas subsidiary has also announced that crew rest areas will be installed on its 11 787-8s, suggesting these aircraft could be used to open new long-haul markets. Fleets Analyzer shows Jetstar has 98 A320neo family aircraft on backlog, including 36 examples of the A321XLR. These long-range single-aisle jets could be deployed onto Jetstar routes currently served by the 787-8s, freeing them up to expand the carrier’s route network.

With several airlines planning cabin retrofits for these relatively young aircraft, and at a time when heavy maintenance is required, logic would dictate that other airlines operating the 787-8 will also take the opportunity to update their fleets.

Contact our team to discover how Ground Events enables businesses to understand when, where and why aircraft are undergoing retrofits and other maintenance events.

Attending AIX Hamburg? Book a meeting with the Cirium team.

Future Airline Experiences: Connectivity, Accessibility, & Gen Z

Driven by the changing expectations of passengers in an increasingly digital world, air travel is evolving. The nexus of innovative connectivity solutions, entertainment options, and thoughtful interior design is revolutionising air travel.

Airlines that positively harness these trends will achieve both passenger satisfaction and customer loyalty for years to come. Aircraft Interior Expo stands at the forefront of showcasing these developments, and this article offers insights into the key forces reshaping the in-flight experience. 

The generational impact on IFEC

Younger generations are reshaping travel expectations and are becoming a powerful force in driving airline spending decisions. These generations, namely Gen Z and Millennials, prioritise seamless connectivity and expect always-on access to information and entertainment, even while soaring thousands of feet above ground.

Given the growing significance of these hugely influential demographics in the air travel market (now accounting for three quarters of passengers, according to Dynata), airlines are making substantial investments in technologies that transform aircraft cabins into connected hubs.  

man pointing at ThinKom airplane antenna
ThinKom Ku- and Ka-band solutions at AIX 2023

André Valera, Vice President of Business Development, Touch, an AIX exhibitor specialising in in-flight entertainment connectivity solutions, said: “Airlines are actively catering to the tech-savvy, always-connected habits of younger generations onboard through several means. From an in-flight connectivity perspective, prioritising faster, and free, Wi-Fi connectivity to ensure seamless internet access for passengers who rely heavily on their devices for entertainment, work, or socialising.” 

Innovations in connectivity and entertainment

Fast and reliable Wi-Fi has moved from a luxury to a staple. As such, the concept of in-flight entertainment is a reality for many major airlines, and is also being explored by short-haul carriers. The carriers that are investing in cutting-edge connectivity solutions are enabling passengers to stream content, connect on social media, and carry our online activities as easily as they would on the ground.  

Which begs the question, what’s next for in-flight connectivity and entertainment? As with consumers on the ground, personalised entertainment is the driving factor, with content options becoming more inclusive to appeal to diverse passenger bases.

“Both physical and digital solutions can make all passengers feel welcome.”

Jo Rowan, Associate Director of Strategy at PriestmanGoode

From the latest Hollywood blockbusters to niche documentaries, nowadays there’s something to catch the eye of every traveller. Airlines are partnering with content providers to create custom channels and offer a continuously refreshed collection of movies, TV shows, podcasts, and even games. 

man wearing VR headset

Regarding the influence of younger generations on the IFEC industry, Valera has observed a “shift in content preferences”, including an “appetite for gaming”. This has led to Touch investing in exclusive partnerships and licensing agreements to secure popular brands. 

Valera continues: “These generations are digital natives, highly connected, and seek seamless solutions in their travel experiences. Social media plays a crucial role as younger travellers share their experiences online, influencing their peers’ travel decisions and shaping airline brand perceptions. 

On the ground, innovations in entertainment are constantly being announced, with recent launches from major technology brands centred around immersive experiences such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Organisations within the airline interiors industry are taking note.  

Valera says, “Beyond traditional IFE, we believe immersive experiences such as AR and VR will be tested with more appetite for risk, as well as gamification, to provide engaging alternatives to screen-based entertainment and combat screen fatigue.

We are also seeing airlines and several vendors exploring advanced options like voice and gesture control, not only for convenience but also for hygiene and accessibility, crucial factors for the health-conscious younger demographic.” 

A heavy emphasis on instant, high-quality internet requires a reliable network to support it. Hughes Network Systems, an AIX exhibitor, is a leading provider of satellite internet and other satellite-based network solutions. Leveraging several technologies, including GEO and LEO satellites, they provide fast, reliable in-flight Wi-Fi to airlines.  

Reza Rasoulian, Vice President at Hughes, said that the demand for fast, reliable, and always-available connectivity is high: “We’re seeing airlines report that passengers are seeking an experience that mirrors the living room. That means uninterrupted and fast connectivity.

Our customers are always looking to introduce the latest innovations to their passengers, including AR, gaming, and such which can be a demanding technology, bandwidth-wise, and requires low latency.  

Addressing the in-flight needs of diverse travellers

Meeting the needs of passenger demographics is key to a successful airline strategy. Beyond younger generations, airlines must make specific allowances for the needs of business travellers, leisure passengers, and families.  

Jo Rowan, Associate Director of Strategy at PriestmanGoode, understands the challenges of satisfying a diverse passenger base.  

Rowan explains, “While younger generations crave tech-driven experiences, older demographics may have different preferences. Striking a balance between these contrasting needs is essential for ensuring a positive experience for all travellers.

This challenge is compounded when you separate passengers into two groups, business, and leisure. It’s all about striking the right balance between creating a space that offers valuable productivity time, and a relaxing environment for those that wish to switch off. Every detail needs to be considered.” 

For business travellers, in-flight time is seen as space for valuable productivity. Consequently, airlines are looking for cabin interior design and services with this in mind. Features like reliable Wi-Fi connections, secure video conferencing functionality, and dedicated workspaces allow these travellers to maintain their on-the-go workflow from the skies. 

“Passengers are seeking an experience that mirrors the living room. That means uninterrupted and fast connectivity.”

Reza Rasoulian, Vice President at Hughes

Airlines are looking to AI and machine learning (ML), as Valera explains: “We utilise partnerships with content usage data providers like Parrot Analytics to gather insights into passenger preferences and behaviours. Additionally, performance data collected from the IFE systems we operate on behalf of our airline customers is feeding our AI/ML models, allowing us to curate personalised content recommendations tailored to the specific needs and interests of each passenger segment, including business and leisure travellers.”  

It’s not only through software that the in-flight entertainment experience can be optimised for business passengers, as Rowan explains. 

“With regard to physical space within the cabin, designers consider all aspects of the interior. This includes providing options for noise-cancellation, privacy screens, and enhanced access to productivity tools, such as screen mirroring. This allows business travellers to focus on work or simply unwind without unnecessary distractions.” 

wheelchair on plinth

Accessibility options

A focus on accessibility is paramount to a satisfying passenger experience for everyone. Inclusive design in onboard entertainment systems is becoming more relevant, with options like closed captioning for the hearing impaired, audio descriptions for the visually impaired, and easy-to-navigate interfaces essential for user-friendliness across the board. 

PriestmanGoode advocates for more inclusive cabin spaces, as part of the consortium working on the innovative “Air 4 All” concept back in 2021, a seating system that allows powered wheelchair users to remain in their own wheelchairs for the entire journey.  

Rowan explains how in the pursuit of innovation, inclusivity and accessibility must remain paramount: “Technology can serve as a powerful tool. In looking ahead to a more inclusive future within the aircraft interior industry, both physical and digital solutions can make all passengers feel welcome.

Haptic systems can enhance the travel experience with hearing impairments, while digital solutions can allow passengers with customised settings empower those with diverse needs. Our Air 4 All concept exemplifies our commitment to inclusivity by allowing powered wheelchair users to remain in the chairs throughout the flight, eliminating the need for transfers between a personalised wheelchair and a seat that’s not ergonomically suited for them.” 

“Social media plays a crucial role as younger travellers share their experiences online.”

André Valera, Vice President of Business Development, Touch

While physical solutions can take years to implement, digital innovation comes at a quicker pace. Touch is actively promoting various accessibility features in in-flight entertainment systems, according to Valera: 

“We want to ensure all passengers can enjoy entertainment offerings. That includes adjustable font sizes, contrast settings, and audio description and close captioning, while intuitive interfaces assist those with hearing or mobility impairments. Our recent partnership with Delta Airlines has led to the carrier creating a more accessible passenger experience by including close captioning on all titles onboard.” 

Challenges and considerations

While the potential for innovation in aircraft interiors is vast, there are challenges airlines and design firms must navigate to successfully implement these changes. Balancing passenger expectations with practical constraints is crucial. Integrating advanced technology requires careful consideration of space limitations, weight restrictions, and stringent safety regulations. Additionally, the long development timelines associated with aircraft design necessitate creating solutions that remain relevant and beneficial for years to come.  

Looking ahead, the future of aircraft interiors will undoubtedly be shaped by the evolving demands of younger generations. Their emphasis on seamless connectivity, personalised experiences, sustainable and accessibility-forward practices demand a dynamic and innovative approach from airlines, suppliers and design firms alike.

By embracing these trends while addressing the associated challenges, the industry can pave the way for a future where air travel is not just comfortable and efficient, but also inclusive, catering to the diverse needs of all passengers.  

Unlocking the Future of In-flight Connectivity

Unlocking the Future of In-flight Connectivity
Diverse group of passengers flying in economy class on plane jet, travelling to holiday destination. Using laptop and smartphone during sunset flight before arriving on vacation trip.
Credit: Freepik

In today’s air travel landscape, passengers expect the same level of connectivity in the skies as they have on the ground. The ability to stay connected during a flight provides passengers with access to entertainment options and enables seamless communication with loved ones or colleagues. Recognising this demand, airlines prioritise connectivity as a key component of their service offerings.  

In-flight connectivity (IFC) offers a more technologically savvy travel experience that meets passenger expectations. Additionally, IFC is seen to play a significant role in supporting airline efforts to deliver ancillary revenue and more efficient onboard service operations.  

Connectivity and sustainability

The aviation industry is making strides towards the ambitious target of achieving ‘net zero carbon emissions by 2050.’ Currently responsible for over 90% of the sectors carbon footprint, efforts to reduce fuel emissions are of utmost importance.  

However, from airport operations to cabin configurations, every aspect of aviation is being checked to mitigate its impact on climate change, including in-flight connectivity. Incorporating more environmentally friendly practices across the entire supply chain is crucial to embedding sustainability into aviation’s core. 

IFC is progressively becoming more ubiquitous, with connectivity being a key factor in consumer decision-making. Research indicates that 82% of airline passengers prefer carriers offering quality Wi-Fi. Partly because of this driver, the in-flight entertainment and connectivity market is projected to reach $11.65 billion in 2030, registering a CAGR of 11.36%, according to Allied Market Research.  

Key players such as Anuvu, Viasat Inc., Panasonic Corporation, and SITA (OnAir) are driving innovation. Plus, emerging growth opportunities are particularly evident in the Asia-Pacific, Middle East, and Latin American regions. 

Beyond enhancing the passenger experience, in-flight connectivity significantly improves airlines’ operational efficiency. Real-time data transmission between aircraft and ground operations:  

  • facilitates proactive maintenance 
  • optimises fuel consumption 
  • and streamlines overall operations 

All resulting in substantial cost savings and a more sustainable approach to air travel. 

Experts anticipate that in-flight entertainment and connectivity systems will play a pivotal role in shaping a greener future for airlines. Several initiatives highlight this commitment, such as Aeromexico’s sustainability measures, which leverage Panasonic Avionics’ in-flight connectivity systems to minimise waste by enabling just-in-time sales. Similarly, AirFi’s innovative LEO solution, installed discreetly in aircraft windows, reduces drag by about 4%. 

Furthermore, Intelsat’s Electronically Steered Array (ESA) antenna exemplifies technological advancements in IFC. Lightweight and has no moving parts, the less-than-three-inch-tall antenna significantly reduces fuel burn and carbon emissions while providing passengers with high-speed connectivity of up to 275 Mbps. 

In-flight connectivity goes beyond mere internet access in the air; it offers many benefits for passengers, crew, and the aviation industry.  

And the IFEC Zone at AIX serves as a hub for showcasing the latest advancements in in-flight connectivity and entertainment. 

man using laptop and headphones on plane
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Processes and efficiency

In-flight connectivity empowers passengers to continue essential tasks such as email communication and web browsing during air travel. This ensures air travellers can remain in touch with clients or loved ones throughout their journey.

Complemented by in-flight entertainment systems, cabin electronics can elevate flight experiences and passenger productivity. Innovative lighting systems can synchronise with travellers’ circadian rhythms to combat jet lag, for example. While mood lighting, controllable via Cabin Management Systems (CMS) or mobile apps, further enhances ambiance. 

“With better connectivity on the go, travel times have increasingly become working times. Now, airlines also want to offer connectivity so they can compete with the existing fast-train city-pair connections.” 

David Fox, Vice President, In-flight & Connectivity Services, Deutsche Telekom 

Optimising operations and safety

In-flight connectivity also serves as a valuable asset for airline operations. 

IFC facilitates data analytics, monitoring usage patterns across airtime services, devices, and traffic categories. This data can inform targeted advertising solutions, drive onboard sales, and enhance the passenger experience. 

In-flight connectivity systems also empower operations teams with access to flight planning and related services, ensuring efficient and safe flight operations. 

Moreover, in-flight connectivity enables real-time monitoring for mechanical issues and swift response to potential emergencies, mitigating risks and enhancing safety protocols. 

In-flight connectivity does all of these things. It should be able to provide reliable internet speeds, accommodate popular apps and tools used on the ground, and demonstrate durability and dependability across diverse flight paths. 

In-flight connectivity not only keeps passengers engaged but also serves as a revenue-generating tool for airlines. By enhancing the overall customer experience, it fosters increased loyalty and positive recommendations, benefiting both airlines and passengers alike. 

Connectivity technologies

Below are a few examples of in-flight connectivity solutions:  


aWAP solutions, like those developed for aerospace by ECA Group, combines a server and wireless access point to provide Wi-Fi coverage in aircraft cabins via the Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN). It enables operators to manage routes and allows for onboard shopping, and other services while offering passengers secure access to various entertainment options on their personal electronic devices (PEDs) through a secured network. 


Lufthansa Technik’s Lconnect solutions swiftly deliver in-flight entertainment and connectivity to aircraft passengers. Offering broadband capabilities, Lconnect seamlessly integrates cockpit and flight operations with passenger and cabin crew services. Its adaptability ensures minor work on the aircraft and will require no major work if ever a need for advances in technology in the future arises. 

Wireless Access Point (WAP)

Another in-flight connectivity option from Lufthansa Technik is the Wireless Access Point (WAP), which provides ultra-fast Wi-Fi connectivity tailored for aircraft environments. Optimised for high-density cabin settings, it features integrated antennas and easy airline configuration. With Gigabit Wireless Standard (802.11ac, 1.3 Gbps) capacity, it supports faster video streaming and internet connections, particularly suited for modern aircraft models like the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787. 

Additional providers

Other notable companies offering in-flight entertainment and connectivity solutions include Thales, with their seatback IFE systems using AVANT Up’s Android based Operating System. AirFi, a leader in portable IFE and in-flight retailing technology, has a suite of solutions that enable IFE streaming, enhanced crew efficiency, and third-party commercial integrations.

Furthermore, ThinKom specialises in antenna systems interoperable across LEO, MEO, GEO, and HEO satellite constellations, ensuring robust connectivity options for the aviation industry. 

satelitte above earth spaceX
Credit: Pexels

What are the differences between LEO and GEO satellites?

The ongoing discourse within the industry revolves around the comparative effectiveness of satellite communications, specifically between LEO and GEO satellites. But what sets these two apart? 

GEO satellites orbit at an altitude of around 36,000 kilometres above the Earth’s equator, synchronising with the planet’s rotation to complete a 24-hour orbit. Stationary in the sky, GEO satellites eliminate the need for Earth-based antennas to track or rotate. 

In contrast, LEO satellites operate within lower orbits ranging from 500 to 2,000 kilometres in altitude, completing 12 orbits daily with an orbital period of up to 128 minutes. However, their smaller field of view restricts communication to only a fraction of the Earth at any given time, necessitating a network infrastructure for continuous coverage. 

In terms of antenna requirements, ground stations serving GEO satellites don’t require adjustments to receive signals. However, due to the higher orbit, GEO antennas need to be larger to provide higher gains. Conversely, LEO satellites demand at least two or three ground-based antennas for seamless transition and tracking, ensuring consistent service by interfacing with multiple satellites and facilitating uninterrupted communication. 

In the aviation industry, satellite-based connectivity is embraced to deliver global coverage and seamless connectivity for aircraft, regardless of their location. While GEO satellites boast broad coverage, they often suffer from higher latency due to the distance between the satellite and the aircraft. Meanwhile, LEO satellites, orbiting closer to Earth, provide both global coverage and low-latency connectivity, making them an appealing option for aviation applications. 

In-flight connectivity, past to future

In the early 2000s, the rise of internet connectivity encouraged airline operators to explore bringing this innovation to air travel. Lufthansa made history by becoming the first airline to offer internet connectivity on a commercial flight route in 2004. However, this service was short-lived, ending in 2006 due to the complex nature of the required ‘Connexion hardware,’ weighing nearly 1,000 pounds (450 kg). The added weight and drag surpassed airlines’ tolerance levels. 

But the groundwork laid during this period was never put to waste.  

Today, several airlines have already been testing or using in-flight connectivity. Some of the airlines that have some measure of IFC capabilities at no extra cost include JetBlue, Norwegian Air, and Air New Zealand, as well as China Eastern Airlines and Philippine Airlines on select aircraft.  

As passenger demand for online connectivity continues to soar, the future of in-flight connectivity appears promising. It has evolved from being a novelty to becoming an industry standard, reflecting the growing expectation of passengers to stay connected while flying. 

“Within the next 5 years we as an industry rather have to focus on how to actually deliver against the passenger expectation, in a profitable manner.” 

Dirk Lindemeier, Chief Commercial Officer, SkyFive AG 

However, airlines must recognise that the performance of their in-flight connectivity offerings will be scrutinised by customers. Therefore, selecting a reliable network provider capable of delivering a seamless broadband experience to passengers is important.

Moreover, IFC providers must be flexible to adapt to airlines’ requirements, cover their global routes, and respond to demand in densely populated areas. This ensures that airlines can meet the evolving needs of their tech-savvy passengers while maintaining a competitive edge in the market.

Do aeroplanes have internet onboard?

Yes, many airlines provide Wi-Fi access onboard their aircraft. British Airways, for example, offers Wi-Fi for a fee, while Turkish Airlines and Emirates offer complimentary Wi-Fi access to certain club members. Many airlines are in the process of implementing Wi-Fi across their fleets.

What technologies allow aeroplanes to carry on-board Wi-Fi?

There are two primary methods for airplanes to access Wi-Fi: air-to-ground and Ku or Ka-band satellite connectivity. 

Air-to-ground relies on cell towers that connect transmitted signals, providing connectivity to aircraft. 

Meanwhile, some aircraft are equipped with antennas, which send and receive signals from satellites to deliver Wi-Fi access.

What are in-flight entertainment and connectivity?  

In-flight connectivity encompasses any onboard technology that utilises an internet connection, enabling passengers, crew and aircraft to access online services. On the other hand, in-flight entertainment refers to the range of onboard options available to entertain passengers during their flight. 

Together, in-flight entertainment and connectivity represent a suite of solutions that enable passengers to connect to the internet and access entertainment options while travelling by air.

Caynova’s revolutionary aircraft seat heating and cooling system makes its aviation debut on the A350 and B787 in 2024, setting new technological standards!

Caynova’s revolutionary aircraft seat heating and cooling system makes its aviation debut on the A350 and B787 in 2024, setting new technological standards!
caynova heat and cooling system for aircraft seats

In the dynamic world of aircraft interiors, where every innovation is designed to enhance passenger experience and well-being, Caynova is making waves with its groundbreaking Seat Heating and Cooling System (HCS). In 2024, we are excited to witness the aviation debut of the world’s first HCS on the A350 and B787 aircraft, setting an unprecedented standard for in-flight comfort and luxury.

Revolutionizing in-flight comfort

At Caynova, we understand that thermal comfort is not a one-size-fits-all concept. It varies from person to person and has a significant impact on the overall well-being of passengers during their journey. With this in mind, Caynova’s HCS provides aircraft passengers with individually adjustable microclimates, giving them the ability to control their own seat temperature.

Our focus on understanding personal well-being and developing comfort features that meet stringent airworthiness requirements has led to the creation of a system that provides unparalleled passenger comfort.

By bridging the gap between the automotive and aviation industries, Caynova is proud to be the first to offer aviation-grade HCS for aircraft seats, meeting EASA/FAA airworthiness regulations and elevating the flying experience to new heights.


Introducing the “Allegris” cabin concept: A game-changer in passenger comfort

The Lufthansa Group heralded a new era in air travel with the unveiling of its groundbreaking “Allegris” cabin concept, designed to redefine passenger comfort. At the heart of this innovation is Caynova’s cutting-edge HCS, seamlessly integrated into Lufthansa’s First and Business Class seats.

With plans to equip more than 100 new aircraft across the Lufthansa Group fleet—including the flagship Boeing 787-9, Airbus A350, and Boeing 777-9 – with Caynova’s HCS, passengers can expect an unparalleled level of luxury and comfort on their journeys.

Carsten Spohr, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, said:

We want to set new, unprecedented standards for our guests. The largest investment in premium products in our company’s history underlines our claim to continue to be the leading western premium airline of the future.

Cesar Uparela, Chief Commercial Officer of Caynova AG, commented:

With our vision of turning flying into personalized well-being, we help our customers to differentiate and win in a competitive market. Open and ongoing dialogues with our customers drive the direction of our products.

caynova heating cooling airplane seat system

Beneficial synergy for airlines and seat manufacturers

Caynova’s HCS not only enhances the passenger experience but also fosters a mutually beneficial collaboration between airlines and seat manufacturers. Not only does this innovative technology allow airlines to offer a customized in-flight experience that differentiates them in a competitive market and reinforces their status as industry leaders, but it also provides seat manufacturers with a valuable asset for their premium seating solutions.

caynova heating system phone display

Leading seat manufacturers such as Airbus Atlantic, Collins Aerospace and Thompson Aeroseating have recognized the immense value of Caynova’s HCS and are seamlessly integrating it into their First and Business Class seats.

Join Us at Aircraft Interiors Expo 2024, 28th-30th May 2024, Hamburg Messe, Hall B6, Booth 6E70

What features support your brand and will make your passengers happy and loyal customers? Experience the future of in-flight comfort with us at Aircraft Interiors Expo 2024. Discover how Caynova’s HCS is reshaping in-flight comfort and redefining passenger well-being. Caynova: Where Comfort Takes Flight.

Stay updated and follow us on LinkedIn

Further information can be found at

Cesar Uparela – Chief Commercial Officer – Caynova AG

#Caynova #seatheating #seatcooling #heatingcooling #thewellbeingcrew #CaynovaSystem

Passenger Experience Conference lands at the Hamburg Messe in May

Passenger Experience Conference lands at the Hamburg Messe in May
Hamburg CCH exterior with PEC welcome digital banner

The organisers of Passenger Experience Conference (PEC), the expertly curated one-day event driving the evolution of onboard, will return to Hamburg Messe on Monday 27 May. Focusing on how to elevate onboard environments, services, and the experience for airline passengers, the first details of this year’s programme have been revealed.

The renowned conference will bring together experts and visionaries from airlines, airframers, OEMs, the global supply chain and design organisations to discuss the conference’s overarching theme, ‘Innovating tomorrow’s travel experiences’. Experts from Air Canada, Airbus, Orson Associates, Gen Phoenix, Doy Design, Flying Disabled, Omnevo, Delta Air Lines, Boeing, Icelandair, and more will be envisioning how to solve the frustrations and respond to the needs of the new cohorts of travellers who will be flying into the next decade.

Attending delegates can join thought-provoking discussions and panels, uncover emerging and exclusive insights regarding future direction for passenger experiences, and help evolve the vision for the cabin of the future.

The 2024 edition of PEC will feature three streams, discussing the changes to the passenger experience already in progress, how air travel experience should fit within collaborative and connected ecosystems, and how to maximise the efficiency of delivering a future seamless passenger experience.

Future now

The first stream, ‘Future Now’, will create an open discussion for delegates to review initiatives already underway which look to gain traction. The sessions will cover current and changing industry standards, the influential role that AI and other tools will have over the next ten years, and approaches to manufacturing and the supply chain that offer the real possibility of achieving systemic change.

Discussions will serve perspectives from the end-to-end supply chain, aimed at opening the door to improved travel experiences and new ways of doing business.

chris wood speaking at passenger experience conference 2023 from a podium

Speaking in the ‘Future Now’ sessions, aviation accessibility experts Christopher Wood, Flying Disabled, and Roberto Castiglioni, Reduced Mobility Rights, will join a representative from Boeing to discuss initiatives improving the inflight experience for travellers with disabilities.

Industry leaders, Nico den Ouden, Chief Innovation Officer and GM seating at Gen Phoenix, Gary Doy, Founder and Managing Director at Doy Design, and Sabeti Wain Aerospace will explore how airlines and seat manufacturers can rethink traditional processes to pioneer sustainability and redesign aviation’s circular future.

Other confirmed speakers for ‘Future Now’ include, Michael Raasch, Chief Executive Officer, Omnevo; Kolbrun Ýr Jónsdóttir, Product Manager Inflight Service & Experience, Products & Service Management, Icelandair; and Kevin Clark, CEO Bluebox Aviation who will be joining a conversation on the potential of artificial intelligence to revolutionise inflight experiences.

Future connected

The next stream, ‘Future Connected’ will prompt industry leaders to re-evaluate the role of air travel within an integrated and connected transport ecosystem and how it meets the needs of passengers who already expect to manage their lives – and their travel – from their mobile devices.  This stream will look at how aviation can navigate the ever-competitive travel landscape, how data and technology can ease the way and create opportunity, as well as how innovations across different travel systems can inspire fresh ideas.

Joining the programme, Maruan El Mahgiub, Vice President, Mormedi, will present the challenges and opportunities of data sharing in aviation. Other confirmed companies set to join discussions at ‘Future Connected’ include AIX exhibitors Expliseat, Lilium and Tangerine.

Future efficient

The final stream, ‘Future Efficient’, will provide fresh perspectives on the initiatives step-changing the aviation industry. Delegates can examine how airlines and supply chain partners can boost profits, streamline processes, and reduce costly wastage while delivering desirable value and quality of experience to passengers.

matt crane and other passenger experience conference 2023 speaker seated against green backdrop

Leading discussions on lowering the resource footprint of the passenger experience sector, Matt Crane, Founder, Aviation Sustainability Forum, and experts from the Green Cabin Alliance will take the stage.

PEC will provide all attendees with unmissable opportunities to collaborate with the entire industry, including senior airline decision-makers, designers, engineers, specifiers, manufacturers, and more from every corner of the globe across seminars and networking breaks. Commencing the day before the doors of Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) and World Travel Catering and Onboard Services (WTCE) open, the conference marks the beginning of a week dedicated to showcasing cutting-edge advances in the aircraft interiors and passenger experience community.

Polly Magraw, Event Director, Aircraft Interiors Expo and World Travel Catering and Onboard Services commented:

“The industry is at the crucial precipice of revolutionising the passenger experience to shift expectations, integrate advanced IFEC technology, and meet sustainability targets. PEC will once again stand as the beacon that attracts industry thought leaders and decision makers to shape the future of passenger experience ahead of AIX and WTCE.

This year’s approach will encourage delegates to contribute to the engaging discussions to transform today’s challenges into tomorrow’s business opportunities.”

Charting the Course of Eco-Friendly Skies

Charting the Course of Eco-Friendly Skies
Satu Dahl, Editor, Inflight Magazine
Satu Dahl, Editor, Inflight Magazine

Focusing on ‘net zero cabins’ that prioritise passenger comfort, Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX)– in partnership with Inflight Magazine – brought together a number of aviation leaders to discuss the industry’s progress and challenges, as well as how collaboration, recycled materials and weight-saving strategies need to be improved.

Leading the panel discussion was Satu Dahl, the Editor of Inflight Magazine, who was joined by Nils Stoll, CEO of Krüger Aviation; Seth Miller, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of PaxExAero; Antonio Ficca, Vice President of Marketing of Expliseat; Karl Hewson, Director of Technology and Development of Zotefoams and David Sandiford, Manager Aviation – Transportation Accounts Department – Enterprise Accounts and International at Mohawk Group.

Future ready, together

Karl Hewson, Director of Technology & Development, Zotefoams
Karl Hewson, Director of Technology & Development, Zotefoams

Weight-saving designs dominated the discussion as panellists identified them as the single most impactful strategy for reducing aviation’s environmental footprint. Karl Hewson, Director of Technology and Development at Zotefoams, highlighted the traditional focus on lightweight materials for cabin interiors that minimise fuel burn over the lifetime of an aircraft.

However, he emphasised that the focus needs to be on the combined impact of all materials used, not just individual components. Discussing weight as a key metric for measuring environmental impact, Antonio Ficca, VP of Marketing at Expliseat, added that it “cannot be taken in isolation. You can be lighter, but made of non-recycled or recyclable materials, for example.”

Reclaimed materials and parts were another key focus of the discussion. Panellists explored the possibility of using recycled materials in cabin components and even remanufacturing existing seats to create a more circular economy within the industry.

Mr Hewson called for a “dollar per sustainability metric”, adding that “weight savings offer airlines and manufacturers clear CapEx and OpEx benefits, driving their willingness to invest. However, incentives for end-of-life potential seem lacking.”

Seth Miller Founder Editor in Chief PaxEx Aero in an airplane overhead bin
Seth Miller, Founder & Editor-in-Chief, PaxEx Aero

Seth Miller, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of PaxExAero, spoke on behalf of passenger concerns around compacting cabin space and the trade-off between lightweight and experience. “A smaller lavatory might be lighter, but if everybody going in washing their hands ends up splashing water all over themselves, they’re not going to be happy that the flight burned 0.1 fewer kilos of carbon dioxide. Instead, they’re going to be annoyed that their pants are wet.”

Meanwhile, Nils Stoll, CEO of Krüger Aviation shared modern methods of connecting with the consumer to share the sustainable credentials of the cabin. He suggested the use of QR codes to communicate weight and fuel saving to passengers. The ultimate aim being to provide sustainable cabins with a meaningful impact on consumers, enhancing their experience rather than potentially ruining it.

David Sandiford Manager Aviation Transportation Mohawk Group
David Sandiford, Manager Aviation Transportation, Mohawk Group

David Sandiford, Manager Aviation – Transportation Accounts Department – Enterprise Accounts and International, Mohawk Group highlighted the disconnect between the suppliers and buyers, “we’re seeing an increased need for sustainability attributes, but, if the most environmentally sustainable product in the world is $10 more expensive per square yard, I’m going to have a hard time selling it in the marketplace.” But, Mr Ficca confirmed that he has observed a shift in the right direction, with sustainability increasingly being brought to the table in discussions with airline buyers.

Taking responsibility for the cost

With Mr Ficca asking fellow participants who should pay the price of sustainability, the panel acknowledged the need for investment in sustainable solutions. However, opinions differed on who should bear the financial responsibility.

While some suggested cost-sharing among various stakeholders, others emphasised the importance for the industry to invest in its future, considering the recent boom as passenger travel bounces back. Mr Stoll commented on the subject, “At the end of the day, if you are not willing to invest in sustainability, I guess you won’t be a supplier in the future anymore because this is a major topic. As an industry, we have to invest into the future.”

From the interiors supplier perspective, Mr Sandiford agreed that while they are beyond carbon neutral, a major challenge Mohawk faces is the evolving demand from decision-makers within the industry.

Decision-makers are increasingly seeking to understand the sustainable attributes of products, but there is a lack of standardised measurements to make these comparisons between products, “whether it’s an EPD or any other tools used to evaluate each product”.

He highlighted the growing pressure to balance the need for sustainable features with cost constraints, pointing out that even the most sustainable product might struggle to gain traction if it comes at a significantly higher price point.

Nils Stoll, CEO, Krüger Aviation
Nils Stoll, CEO, Krüger Aviation

Elaborating on the topic, Mr Miller hypothesised whether, “passengers are willing to going go out of their way and actively choose to invest in sustainability, as opposed to expecting that airlines are. Assuming the industry is doing the right thing for sustainability.” Other panellists voiced concerns that such measures could increase costs for airlines which would ultimately be passed on to consumers.

On a another note, Mr Stoll pointed out that the market is rapidly evolving, creating an opportunity for the industry to transform its operations. This shift presents a chance to open and prioritise profit margins for sustainable solutions, making environmental responsibility not just the right thing to do, but also a financially sound strategy.

Considering external perspectives

Mr Stoll emphasised the importance of showcasing the positive efforts of the aviation industry in achieving its sustainability goals. He highlighted the industry’s negative media portrayal and stressed the need to counter this narrative by demonstrating the sector’s initiatives that are driving a more sustainable future.

Antonio Ficca, Vice-President Marketing & Strategy, Expliseat
Antonio Ficca, Vice-President Marketing & Strategy, Expliseat

However, Mr Ficca cautioned that the aviation industry is not effectively communicating its sustainability efforts to the public. He argued that the sector needs to be more transparent and clearer in its messaging, similar to other industries, like rail and electric vehicles, that have successfully positioned themselves as environmentally conscious. With lower CO2 emissions per passenger than flights, rail companies emphasise the environmental benefits of train travel through consumer marketing and advertising. Mr Hewson emphasised that the aviation industry’s sustainability efforts are rightly centred on fuel savings achieved through combined lightweight design, though admittedly a less consumer-facing area of aviation. 

Mr Miller wondered whether the small, incremental steps being made towards sustainability are enough to achieve the industry’s ambitious net-zero targets. He emphasised the importance of educating the public about these efforts and ensuring they understand the progress being made, even if the changes to the passenger experience are not readily apparent.

Take-off for collaboration

He went on to explain that “the next step is turning thoughts into actions to move the industry forward, and faster.” Mr Ficca spoke on behalf of all participants to share that industry members are uniting to discuss their experiences and challenges and hopes this is evidence that things are moving in the right direction.

Concluding the discussion, Mr Stoll said, “if we see people around the world, people with the same mission, with the same heart for sustainability, we have to bring them together.”

Find the full write-up of the roundtable discussion on the Inflight Magazine website, here.

Empowering Voices: Women in the Aircraft Interiors Industry on International Women’s Day

Empowering Voices: Women in the Aircraft Interiors Industry on International Women’s Day
international women's day female engineer

A celebration of the social, economic, political, and cultural achievements of women globally, International Women’s Day has become an institutional hallmark around the world. It’s also a day of activism, spreading awareness of the ongoing push for gender equality.

Marked annually on 8th March, the day serves as a reminder of the progress made towards gender equality while acknowledging the hurdles that still need to be overcome. From advocating for equal pay to challenging societal norms and stereotypes, International Women’s Day amplifies the voices of women around the world to create a more inclusive and equitable future for all genders.

In this article, AIX explores perspectives on International Women’s Day and the future of the aircraft interiors sector, featuring insights from influential women focusing on their experiences, successes, and challenges.

Exploring perspectives on International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day serves as a crucial point of reflection for women across the aircraft interiors industry, offering a moment to both celebrate progress and acknowledge the ongoing journey towards gender equality.

Maria Kafel-Bentkowska

Maria Kafel-Bentkowska, Head of CMF at PriestmanGoode, articulates the significance of recognising past struggles: “Women have had to fight for the rights they have today. I definitely see the positive in celebrating the achievements of women in the past who have helped us reach this point. For me, it’s about celebrating our achievements and seeing how far we have come.” Her words encapsulate the resilience and determination of women who have paved the way for greater opportunities.

Melissa Raudebaugh, General Manager, Inflight Service, Fleet and Galley Planning at Delta, adds to the discussion by highlighting the multifaceted nature of International Women’s Day: “International Women’s Day helps us remember how far we’ve come for parity in the workforce but also what still needs to be done.”

Melissa Raudebaugh

For Raudebaugh, the day serves as both a marker of progress and a reminder of the work that lies ahead. It’s a time to connect with peers, share experiences, and find strength in solidarity. Raudebaugh underscores the importance of collective support and understanding, continuing: “It’s nice to see what other women in the industry are doing and understand their thoughts and that many others have the same feelings and views as you do.”

“Airlines…are making big strides to promote diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Charo Medina Peris
Head of Cabin Products and Digital Services, British Airways

Emphasising the broader impact of awareness campaigns like International Women’s Day, Anna Nosworthy, CMF Creative Lead at JPA Design London, explains: “Any and all efforts to bring awareness through campaigns like this, is benefiting us all.” Her perspective highlights the ripple effect of initiatives aimed at fostering inclusivity and gender equality. By amplifying diverse voices and experiences, such campaigns contribute to a more inclusive industry culture.

Anna Nosworthy

This shift is being demonstrated by schemes such as 25by2025, led by IATA, a global initiative aimed at enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the aviation sector. Launched in 2019, it educates on the importance of implementing best practices to promote gender diversity. With over 200 influential industry signatories, the initiative has already begun to drive positive change, such as a significant increase in the number of female pilots and a rise in the percentage of women in senior roles within the aviation industry.

Fostering success with gender diversity

Experts in the aircraft interiors industry emphasise the critical importance of gender diversity in the sector. According to Kafel-Bentkowska, diversity isn’t just about filling quotas, it’s about enriching perspectives and driving success. She states, “In any industry, a diverse perspective is key to the success of projects, whether this is through gender, mobility, cultural difference or experience. Spaces and experiences should be designed for all, and as part of that, everyone’s requirements should be considered.”

Echoing this sentiment, Raudebaugh underscores the tangible benefits of gender diversity in aircraft interiors. She highlights how diverse teams can better cater to the needs of passengers, who represent a spectrum of genders. Raudebaugh explains, “Greater gender diversity is beneficial for everyone. Passengers on airplanes are comprised of both genders so having diversity in those who design and engineer the interiors can best represent what customers want and need.”

She adds: “Different perspectives in the design phase help to make sure all are considered in the final product. Leg rests come to mind as an example. As we think about adding leg rests to our premium cabin seats, are they effective? I love a leg rest, but my tall counterparts can’t really use one on tighter pitched seats, so is it worth the additional weight and maybe more discomfort for some? Gaining these perspectives early can really help design an ideal cabin for all.”

For Nosworthy, diversity isn’t just about representation; it’s about fostering innovation and dynamism within the workplace. She emphasises, “Greater diversity brings a more varied and dynamic work arena. This can only be a positive thing for any industry.” In an industry as complex and fast-paced as aircraft interiors and wider aviation, diverse perspectives can lead to more creative problem-solving and innovation, ultimately driving progress and success.

This sentiment is mirrored by real data exploring the impact of gender diversity on business performance. For example, research from McKinsey and co. found that companies in the top quartile for executive gender diversity were 25% more likely to generate greater profits. This reinforces the critical importance of fostering gender diversity within organisations, not only for promoting inclusivity but also for driving tangible business success.

Charo Medina Peris

Charo Medina Peris, Head of Cabin Products and Digital Services at British Airways, shares her insights on how embracing gender diversity can both benefit recruitment and foster a positive organisational culture.

She highlights: “In my opinion, putting a greater focus on diversity attracts more people to an organisation, creates a culture where you can find peers you can establish deeper connections with and brings different points of view and ways of doing things that enrich us as individuals and as a collective. We know diverse teams embedded in an inclusive culture always create better results.”

A more accessible industry

Discussing the topic of improving career access, Kafel-Bentkowska says there is “a lot more interest and knowledge about CMF within the transport industry, making careers more accessible to women that are interested in pursuing a career in aviation.” She adds, “There is a perception that the industry is male-dominated, but that’s not the case.”

Kafel-Bentkowska elaborates “I’ve seen a change over the past 13 years, and it definitely feels more balanced today. Awareness and representation has grown within the industry, in part, through education. PriestmanGoode has some influence in this area, as we have been partnering with universities and educational trusts for many years.

As an example, I’ve run the PG x RCA MA Textiles yearly collaboration now for the past eight years and a great deal of students learn about the industry through this project. As new generations enter this field, they bring a fresh perspective and tip the balance in this once heavily male dominating industry. My advice in general to anyone is to follow what you’re passionate about and carve out your mark.”

Similarly, Raudebaugh highlights the positive industry changes she’s witnessed over the past few decades. She explains, “I began my career as an engineer working very closely with mechanics – a world where there were very few women. But it was an opportunity to create a learning experience and prove that women are just as capable. Luckily in the last 20 years, gender diversity has come a long way and I have to hope that same young female engineer has a lot less to prove than when I started!”

“Any and all efforts to bring awareness through campaigns like this, is benefiting us all.”

Anna Nosworthy
CMF Creative Lead at JPA Design London, explains:

Medina Peris reflects on her journey in the industry, addressing the importance of overcoming imposter syndrome and the ongoing efforts to promote diversity and inclusion within British Airways and the broader aviation sector. She emphasises, “As I moved up in the airline, I realised I had “impostor syndrome”.

Since then, I’ve taken part in coaching programmes and participated in continuous training, supported by British Airways, that has helped me massively to reflect on how I operate and identify where I need to improve. It does take time and perseverance to be where you want to be, but the effort is definitively worth it.”

Medina Peris continues, “Airlines and partner suppliers, particularly in the engineering field, are making big strides to promote diversity, equity and inclusion. More female representation in senior management positions demonstrate that it is possible for women to succeed in the industry and encourage long-term retention, which is something British Airways is really striving towards and putting a real focus on mentoring and coaching programmes, diversity training and fostering a culture of inclusivity and respect, are also important to attract more female talent.”

Research suggests that efforts to enhance gender diversity and increase female representation are gaining momentum in the industry. According to data from ICAO, the percentage of female aircraft maintenance engineers and technicians rose from 2.7% to 3.0% worldwide, between 2016 and 2021 – with increases being seen in all regions except the Middle East and Africa. Despite movement over the last few years, there’s still a long way to go.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we’re reminded to continue vocalising and promoting the remarkable achievements of women in every corner of the aircraft interiors sector. Through the insights of industry professionals like Maria Kafel-Bentkowska, Melissa Raudebaugh, Anna Nosworthy, and Charo Medina Peris we see the resilience, progress, and ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusivity. Their voices echo the importance of fostering gender diversity and breaking down barriers for future generations in aircraft interiors and beyond.

The future? It’s already here.

The future? It’s already here.
evtol aircraft behind aix blue airplane window cut-out

It seems like it was only a couple of years ago when we thought our digitally-transformed future would be in the bag and we could settle back with a cup of cocoa and marvel at a job well done. Not so. GenAI is already here and our task is to work out how to make it work for us.

Looking at recent consumer and technology trends reports there is the palpable excitement around artificial intelligence and the tools it has already delivered, most obviously but not limited to, generating content, text, visuals, and sound (aka GenAI).

Slightly less disruptive, but in many ways just as exciting, are the maturing technologies of electric powered small aircraft, particularly in relation to first- and last-mile journeys. The excitement around these ideas seems to connect at a deep level in the human psyche and will influence much of our thinking about aviation over the next few years.

It’s clear that a full roll-out of electric vertical lift and take off (eVTOL) services is still some way off. Infrastructure, traffic management, and energy management are issues that need addressing, but these vehicles and associated concepts are maturing, and so planning for them must start now.

While on the subject of clean energy aviation, environmental concerns will continue to be at the front of our minds. Although, we will see a step change in attitudes as people become more alert to greenwashing and increasingly prefer to support businesses that are transparent about their sustainability efforts and have more trustworthy eco-credentials.

Trust itself is a deliverable that will be key to customer relationships. The breakdown of trust is increasingly a blockage to leveraging new business opportunities.

A state of flux

Accenture Song’s Accenture Life Trends 2024 report observes that society is in a state of flux, where people are deconstructing everything as they try to work out their place in the world. It reveals that half of all people globally are significantly altering their life goals, prioritising job security and retirement over higher education or getting married, while 48% of people plan less than 12 months ahead, or not at all.

“We’re entering a decade of deconstruction spurred on by changing consumer values, Al’s explosive growth and the relentless speed of change,” says Mark Curtis, Global Sustainability Lead for Accenture Song.

Redefining personalisation – opportunities and challenges

Noting that conversational AI already has mass cultural awareness, Accenture adds that GenAI is “upgrading” people’s experience of the internet from transactional to personal, predicting that personalisation in commerce will likely be redefined.

Technology consultancy Gartner declares that the democratisation of GenAI is one of this year’s top 10 strategic tech trends, predicting that by 2026 over 80% of enterprises will have used GenAI tools in some form – up from less than 5% in early 2023.

While Euromonitor’s Top Global Consumer Trends 2024 forecasts GenAI tools will evolve into co-creators for consumers, influencing their decisions and reshaping their expectations of brand engagement. It remarks: “As consumers keep testing the capabilities of this technology, they’ll expect brands to do the same.”

Within the passenger experience community, specialists in onboard retail, digital connected services, and seating all envisage GenAI opportunities to provide travellers with better customised experiences.

Laura Roesges, Chief Commercial Officer at inflight retail specialist Retail inMotion (RiM), says:

“AI is a key tool the industry will draw from to analyse passenger preferences and offer bespoke recommendations for inflight purchases.”

Verena​​​​ Bintaro, Director of Marketing, Communications & Partnerships at digital cabin solutions specialist AERQ, adds that advanced data tools such as GenAI “not only enhance engagement but are also in line with evolving passenger expectations towards a more customised journey.”

However, with AI’s capabilities rapidly developing, there will be challenges. As Roesges  acknowledges, “The fast progression of AI tools makes it challenging to stay on top of daily technical progress.”

robort frame on airplane chair at AIX

Navigating data privacy regulations also becomes more complex. Bintaro cautions: “Airlines need to find the right balance between highly personalised content and passengers’ privacy concerns. Other challenges are the integration of advanced data tools in the existing aviation technology frameworks as well as afterwards ensuring the availability of high-quality data.”

For aircraft seat manufacturer Expliseat, integrating AI-driven intelligence into the design process promises intuitive passenger experiences. Vice President Marketing & Strategy, Antonio Ficca explains: “AI tools can be envisioned as dynamic entities that continuously engage with users, predicting and addressing their needs in real-time.

For instance, seats autonomously adjusting before mealtime or prior to landing represents a proactive and anticipatory approach. The vision extends to a future where a dialogue unfolds between users and cabin components, generating insights that designers can leverage to craft more intuitive and responsive designs.”

Combining tech with the human touch

Elsewhere, Mintel’s Global Consumer Trends 2024 predicts the emergence of “a new ‘human-as-premium’ label…giving greater influence to artisans who can take on the creative spirit that exists outside of an algorithm”. That is to say, that human service interactions will be perceived as having a higher value.

The combination of tech and the human touch will be the winning formula for both passenger experience and retail sales according to RiM’s Roesges. She notes crew training can improve interactions between cabin staff and passengers and crew reward systems can boost onboard sales. “There’s plenty of opportunity to blend technology with human touchpoints, such as virtual concierge services and personalised inflight services,” she says.

man hearing VR headset

Digital solutions should enhance human interactions, with personalised content creating a feeling of being understood according to AERQ’s Bintaro. She envisages opportunities to innovate interactions, for example via gaming. She says: “Players could use opportunities to actively drive social engagement through collaborative gaming or enhancing the engagement with the crew. In terms of generating revenue, offering ‘premium’ interactive content can be a great opportunity.”

And we can expect future virtual agents to be much more approachable than today’s bots. Amadeus Travel Trends 2024 predicts: “The next generation of GenAI-powered customer service will be delivered with greater patience and empathy”, giving employees “the bandwidth to provide the human touch on more specialist issues”.

Blurring tech and transport

Moving on to eVTOLs, Amadeusforecasts the emergence of “Electric Skyways” that will allow eVTOLs and other kinds of electric aircraft to provide lower emission air travel options, within urban areas, to satellite airports, cross-country and between islands. In parallel, eVTOL take-off and landing sites, or  vertiports, will provide easy-access gateways to these services.

eVTOL aircraft on a vertipad sunny day

While “swift, lower carbon emitting, first- and last-mile journeys” may still seem rather futuristic, Amadeus notes that Volocopter is planning to provide a fleet of eVTOL’s for this year’s Olympic Games in Paris and Joby Aviation is planning commercial eVTOL flights from 2025.

 The close association between transport and technology is increasingly in evidence at high-profile electronics events according to Matthew Nicholls, Sales Director at Tapis, which develops high-performance fabrics for aircraft interiors. He observes that “blurring the lines between transport and technology, the passenger expectation is going to rise”.

“Passengers who own iPhones and Androids expect a higher level of experience on a train, in a  plane and in a car. Bluetooth and bring-your-own-content is going to be a must-have and I think there is a period of catch-up that the transportation industry is going to go through.”

Step change in consumer engagement on sustainability

Keeping pace with consumer expectations will also create challenges (and opportunities) for brands around sustainability. The Euromonitor trends report points out that as people attempt to live more sustainable lives, they are questioning whether companies and governments are fully utilising available resources to create meaningful impact.

Greater communication and educating passengers about ongoing work will be vital according to Ficca at Expliseat, where sustainability initiatives are moving beyond weight reduction and incorporating recycled carbon fibre into seats. It is exploring options for aviation customers to return seats at the end of their life cycle for material repurposing. Ficca says: “Rebuilding trust with passengers requires openness about the environmental impacts of products.”

A take-away from the 2024 forecasts is that we are living in times where there is more to be worried about and more to be excited about than ever and they are the same thing: potentially game-changing technology. The next couple of years will be about getting that tech to do what we as consumers need – rather than it being used to keep us at arms length.

This means that the interface between human and tech must become more nuanced. It’s a fair assumption that the businesses that will be more desirable to customers in future will be those who make astute use of maturing technologies and offer sincerity and trust to their customers.

This article was produced in paid partnership with Gillian Jenner.

Prepare for Take-Off: Registration Now Open

Prepare for Take-Off: Registration Now Open

for Aircraft Interiors Expo and World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo

man at aix taking picture of stelia seat

19 FEBRUARY 2024, HAMBURG: Registration is now open for Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) and World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE).

Taking place at the Hamburg Messe from 28-30 May 2024, the two events offer visitors an opportunity to explore the latest innovations across the full passenger experience, including the aircraft interiors, inflight catering, and onboard services sectors. With registration to either AIX or WTCE granting access to both shows, visitors can expand their understanding of each industry through a host of new and returning exhibitors, enhanced visitor features, and a raft of educational content aimed at the entire passenger experience community.

AIX is the go-to exhibition to explore technologies and hardware that enhance every aspect of the cabin experience, as airlines, OEMs, suppliers, and designers prepare for the latest cabin interior, business jet and inflight entertainment advancements. From seating and galley equipment to lighting, LEDs, cabin management systems and IFEC hardware, the event facilitates collaboration and innovative solutions from over 400 suppliers.

Major industry players such as Boeing, Airbus, Recaro, Safran, Panasonic Avionics, and Collins Aerospace will return for 2024, reaffirming AIX as the premier global marketplace for the aircraft interiors industry and the surrounding supply chain.

busy stand at wtce 2023

Co-located at the Hamburg Messe, WTCE is poised to bring together buyers from all the leading airlines and rail operators with suppliers of all things inflight catering, passenger comfort and onboard services. Noteworthy exhibitors, such as Linstol, LSG Group, dnata, FORMIA, Buzz Products, and more have confirmed their participation, and will showcase the latest innovations and onboard products. Additionally, WTCE is introducing its ‘Steps to Sustainability’ feature, recognising the achievements and innovations of companies at the forefront of environmentally conscious materials, production, manufacturing, and operations.

AIX and WTCE Event Director, Polly Magraw, said:

“We are very much looking forward to being in Hamburg this May for AIX and WTCE. These two events, co-located at the famous Hamburg Messe, are the perfect platforms for industry professionals to unite, share insights, and stay ahead in enhancing the onboard experience.

Whether you’re an industry veteran or a passionate newcomer, these events promise to showcase the latest and greatest across three full days of talks, presentations, and hands-on displays.”

Registering for one show grants visitors access to both events, free of charge.

How Accessible Air Travel Benefits All Passengers

How Accessible Air Travel Benefits All Passengers
airplane model

Accessibility in air travel is crucial for all passengers. Improved airline accessibility ensures that everyone, not only disabled passengers, but the elderly, families, and more, have access to the same benefits of air transportation.

Passengers have diverse needs, and therefore interact with the aircraft cabin in different ways. And attempting to meet these needs is key to creating ‘an environment of inclusion’ for all. 

Accessibility for all

Global Market Estimates projects that the global airline industry market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 25.5% from 2022 to 2027. Increased travel demand and the rapidly growing middle class are driving this growth. Tourist expenditure on air travel is also expected to reach $354 billion. 

Passengers travel for different purposes. While most travel for pleasure, 12% are noted to be travelling for business. It’s estimated that companies spend $300 billion every year on corporate travel, with 20% of that amount allocated to airfare. Some passengers also travel with their families or with an organised group, while, others travel alone.  

Passengers of all ages also travel on airlines. Airline travel still has no specific maximum age limit. Meanwhile, most airlines permit infants as young as a few days old to travel with parents or guardians. 

Add to this passengers with mobility, sensory and cognitive impairments, or other special needs. Roughly 27 million passengers with disabilities travelled by air in 2019, as per the Department of Transportation (DOT). But also ‘20% of the adult population’, says Air Access for All maybe also have at the very least ‘mobile difficulty’. 

The different criteria of airline passengers prove the importance of improving accessibility. Making accessibility a top priority conveys to passengers that airlines value their individual needs whilst also astutely responding to the needs of a considerable market share.  

As such, increased airline accessibility measures offer trickle-down benefits for all travellers.  

Space saving seating

Airlines have been working on different tactics to achieve accessibility for all across the passenger experience. 

The seating is improved in Air Canada’s first upgraded Airbus A321. The new seats in both business and economy classes are designed to optimise passenger personal space and improve ergonomics. It will also make way for more storage space, which will give customers a more comfortable experience. The optimisation of the seats and enhanced ergonomics offer greater comfort for passengers with mobility issues, back problems, or other physical discomforts. 

Japan Airline also announced that it will add a new Airbus A350-1000 to its fleet. The aircraft will feature all-new cabin interiors that will offer passengers a comfortable and relaxing cabin space.  

The economy seats come with 13-inch 4K monitors, which may benefit elderly passengers more as the larger, high-resolution monitors may make it easier for them to view entertainment content or navigate the system without straining their eyes. The monitors are also beneficial for families traveling with children as these will lessen their boredom and restlessness. 

Meanwhile, the premium economy class seats feature larger partitions for added privacy, allowing passengers to rest or relax without any distractions. The business-class cabin has fully private rooms, while the first-class cabin presents a large, adjustable sofa converts.  

airline seatback screen grey seat aerial view

Manufacturers are testing various seat innovations to ensure accessible cabins for every passenger. 

A strategic design company, LAYER, has created a new economy-class seating concept for Airbus. The company’s prototype features smart textiles, which allow passengers to adjust various factors via an app. The seat is made using smart textiles, which incorporate digital knitting with built-in conductive yarns and sensors.   

Passengers can use the app to control the temperature, seat tension and pressures, and motion, as well as access different modes such as massage, mealtime, or sleep mode. This could outline a future where passengers who are particularly interested in monitoring their vials, or those who need to, can do so with ease. 

For one, ‘accessibility supports active ageing’ and allows passengers who don’t necessarily need assistance to travel with dignity.  As such, B/E Aerospace’s Knee-Rescue seats can be moved forwards or backwards depending on things like passenger height, age and flexibility. Cabin crew can then also anticipate passenger needs such as for tall passengers sat in front of children. 

Safran Seats and Universal Movement, a transportation technology company, have also partnered to produce Interspace seat technology. The Interspace equipment improves premium economy passenger comfort through the deployment of easily deployable padded wings that fold out from the seat back. The seats are retrofittable, which means airlines don’t need to replace existing seat units. The padded wings allow passengers to rotate and lean on a cushioned surface.  

This allows for ‘greater lateral support’, for instance for passengers who need aid without requiring completely reconfigured seating. Airlines can then also reconfigure economy cabins to lock out the central or outboard seats, which provides passengers with greater delineation and privacy. 

From getting enough legroom to adjustable seating types, these innovations are just some of those seeking to redefine cabin capacity, accessibility and comfort. 

Processes and convenience

Not only airline seats, but also the overall processes in aviation witness innovations. 

Curating digital experiences for different passenger “personas” is also one way to encourage accessibility for one. Something as simple as having a seamless online connection can be a big help for frequent business travelers who are often multitasking during travel. But it can also help to respond to what Forbes has called the ‘reluctant traveler’ persona. It cannot be assumed that everyone, regardless of ability, is necessarily comfortable through the end-to-end-passenger experience. 

Meanwhile, other groups like vacationers can take advantage of a carrier or airport-owned mobile apps that can guide them through check-in and onboard processes.  

Another example of accessibility for all is when the United Airlines 787-10 Dreamliner installed its in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. The IFE not only mirrors the features found on many smartphones today but is also helpful for blind and visually impaired passengers.  

It has seatback entertainment features, custom messaging tailored for customers with hearing disabilities or even auditory issues such that they can remain included in in-flight communication. Plus, additional navigation options for mobility-impaired passengers unable to swipe or use handset features. 

Robotics is also one solution to achieving airline accessibility. Robots can help aviation in a variety of ways, from cleaning and maintenance to baggage handling and customer service. 

Researchers are testing self-driving robot pods at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) to safely transport people in crowded places. This is especially helpful for people with reduced mobility (PRM) or even those who cannot walk long distances due to certain circumstances. 

Self-driving robots can also be programmed to communicate in multiple languages, which can help passengers who may have language barriers or difficulties. Plus, they can be designed with accessibility features that can help passengers with visual or hearing impairments. 

At Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), a fleet of fully autonomous delivery robots for food and retail is now available. These robots are making the lives of passengers more convenient, as they assist in making and receiving contactless orders. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is fast becoming an integral part of the aviation industry, contributing to airline accessibility. It is currently being deployed to revolutionise various operational processes within the airport and cabin, including boarding, baggage and security screening, identity checks, and passenger flow. 

Airlines are increasingly putting AI on the frontlines of customer service through AI-powered chatbots. Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia have replaced previous iteration ‘AVA’ with new AI-powered ‘Ask Bo’. This AI-powered chatbot will provide live updates on flight status and boarding information. 

row of three airplane seats in yellow covering

Addressing accessibility in airline travel

The future of accessible passenger experience will rely on principles that increasingly make air travel smarter and easier. Passengers should have a smart way to find the information they need whenever they encounter potential issues. They should also have access to personalised experiences, making them feel connected and special. Finally, the air travel experience should be easy.  

Airlines can take advantage of social media and cloud services so passengers can easily check in, get flight updates, and for the airlines to have a holistic view of the customer. They must also reconsider seating designs with accessibility-forward approaches. In necessitating accessibility for one demographic, carriers can hope to see positives trickle-down to all. 

Accessibility should be built into the DNA of assisting not only disabled passengers but every passenger. 

Analysing Airline Accessibility: Now and the Future

Analysing Airline Accessibility: Now and the Future
Serious aged Caucasian male tourist in a disposable protective mask sitting in a transport chair
Credit: Adobe

For some, flying may be inconvenient, more so for people with physical or hidden disabilities. Disabled passengers still face a lot of barriers when flying, from boarding and disembarking to the convenience of using onboard facilities. That is why it is important for the aviation industry to make air travel accessible for everyone, no matter what their abilities or limitations are.  

Airline accessibility is also not just a necessary commitment; it also makes business sense.  

Accessibility for all

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that an estimated 1.3 billion people experience significant disability. That’s approximately one in every six people, or 16% of the world’s population.

One essential mode of transportation for people all over the world is air travel. And for passengers with disabilities, flying comes with several challenges.  

For instance, wheelchair users have found their wheelchairs not only mistreated, but also unable to be located by airlines. Stephanie Cadieux, the Chief Accessibility Officer of Canada, is just one such traveller lost her wheelchair during a flight from Toronto to Vancouver. On the other hand, Australian Paralympian Karni Liddell has experienced multiple instances where airlines denied her boarding due to her mobility aid containing lithium batteries. 

The Department of Transportation (DOT) reported over 800 wheelchairs mishandled by U.S. airlines alone. This translates to almost 1.5 damaged chairs for every 100 flown. DOT also received 1,394 disability-related complaints from airline passengers. As a result, many passengers with accessibility challenges may be opting not to fly to avoid damage. 

The silver lining, however, is that the aviation industry is responding. Airports have invested in improving ramps, elevators, restrooms, and other areas to achieve airline accessibility for all

An economy class empty cabin of the airplane - empty dark blue chairs. Mid shot
Credit: Adobe

Space saving seating

Bulkhead seats, or seats at the front of the plane, are often the seat of choice for people with mobility disabilities. While they may not have moveable armrests due to the tray tables, bulkhead seats offer more legroom. Other seats that do have a moveable armrest may allow disabled passengers to slide from an aisle seat directly into theirs. This is not, however, a seamless solution. 

In the U.S., certain airlines need to provide seating accommodations to qualified passengers with disabilities under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). Most airlines provide advance seat assignments for passengers with disabilities, while others do not provide this option. 

Disabled passengers are also known to have been purchasing premium cabin seating because of travel concerns.   

But innovations for seat optimisation in non-premium cabins also need to be developed to further cater to the needs of passengers with disabilities. One good example is the team-up of Collins Aerospace with the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) researchers and students. Their “Fly Your Wheels Suite” concept allows disabled passengers to board aircraft using their own power wheelchairs without discarding existing seats. While this airplane accessibility idea is still in the works, Collins reports that they are planning to create digital and physical models to attract future airline clients. 

Molon Labe Seating also developed the Freedom Seat prototype. The Freedom Seat design enables the aisle seat to slide over to the window seat, creating space for the attachment of a wheelchair via a docking system. Molon Labe has performed in-house crash testing, and the prototype’s design has passed Technical Standard Orders (TSO) authorisation. 

Mockup of Aircraft monitor on cabin in passenger seat plane interior
Credit: Adobe

Processes and convenience

In addition to optimising aircraft seats, manufacturers are utilising technology to work towards more accessible cabins. This is evident even in some non-premium cabins, including Swiss’ A220s that feature mini screens that broadcast geovision and broadcast instructions. This may be especially helpful for passengers who have visual impairments whilst saving the carrier on the cost of installing full seatback IFE systems. 

The United Airlines 787-10 Dreamliner also boasts a seatback entertainment system to suits passengers with varying levels of vision and supports those with hearing or mobility issues. It also has text-to-speech with reading granularity options, custom messaging tailored for customers with hearing disabilities, and options for mobility-impaired passengers who have difficulties swiping or using handset features. This IFE system even won the Crystal Cabin Award for Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity in 2019. 

Another part of the passenger experience is selecting food and beverages. Aside from carefully curating choices for passengers, airlines have considered how passengers can order more easily. Icelandair, for example, has introduced an option to pre-purchase meals during the booking process. This allows passengers to choose their in-flight food in advance. With this airplane accessibility option, individuals with certain disabilities or conditions that require strict adherence to dietary guidelines can be confident that they will receive meals that meet their requirements. 

On the other hand, Edinburgh Airport uses the FetchyFox platform to help passengers with reduced mobility order food and beverages from different restaurants in the departure lounge and have their orders delivered to them. 

To make the passenger experience more convenient, developers have also been working on ways to reduce waiting times. One ideal example is Cologne Bonn Airport’s “CGNGateWay.” This service enables passengers to book a fixed timeslot for security checks, allowing them to organise their trip better. Via CGNGateWay, passengers can book a timeslot 72 hours before their departure time, which helps ensure more consistent capacity utilisation of the lanes.  

This technology, exemplifying airline accessibility, is especially helpful for passengers with disabilities as it streamlines the overall check-in process. In addition, the pre-booking process informs security personnel about the passenger’s condition. With this option, screening procedures can be customised to respect the disabled passenger’s dignity while ensuring security protocols are upheld. 

airport signs
Credit: Unsplash

Ensuring an inclusive cabin experience for everyone

True air travel accessibility has to encompass all current and potential passengers with reduced mobility require access to the same rights to air transportation as any other traveler. They should be able to experience the joy of air travel with dignity and comfort. As such, airlines and airports are working on several developments that can bring about a much-needed change when it comes to adhering to the needs of people with physical or hidden disabilities. 

Disabled passengers may have the option to book bulkhead seats, as they offer more legroom, but they can also choose a seat with easier access to the aisle. However, the cost associated with this and the “othering” process involved still doesn’t go far enough to solve the problem. 

Seat optimisations are also being explored to achieve airplane accessibility, with options like having the passenger’s own wheelchair attached to the airline’s seat. Allowing boarding with the passenger’s own wheelchair without discarding existing seats is also being explored. 

The realm of IFE is also constantly evolving what can be done to support for passengers with visual, hearing and comprehension mobility issues. Moreover, the implementation of pre-booking technologies may be a route to assuaging dietary concerns and uncomfortable check-in and security procedures. Other measures could focus on staff inclusivity, including the teaching of sign-language and braille on key travel materials to restroom redesigns.  

Despite improvements in airline accessibility over the past few years, there is still much work to be done. Find out more at Aircraft Interiors Expo:

Product Showcase: Aircraft Manufacturer Products at AIX

Product Showcase: Aircraft Manufacturer Products at AIX
aix 2023 top product interest bar chart

Last year, Aircraft Interiors Expo welcomed 27 companies specifically showcasing their aircraft manufacturer products.

Similar to seating, galleys & galley equipment, aircraft manufacturers remained one of the top 5 most sought-after product categories at the show. For the next edition of the show, the AIX team look forward to some of the latest offerings from returning and new to the show aircraft manufacturers.

Stirling Dynamics

Stirling Dynamics GmbH-logo

Discover Stirling Dynamics‘ EASA 21J modification hub for tailored cabin solutions, with products such as 3D printed parts, smart repairs, crew rest, tray tables and many other cabin parts.

Stirling Dynamics EASA 21J is providing cabin modification and cabin solutions for airlines during the last 10 years. Their Cabin Mod Hub is offering smart and cost-efficient cabin products and repairs for airlines and MRO’s. By collaboration with numerous Part 21G manufacturers they offer a broad variety of standard and tailored solutions fully compliant with regulatory requirements.

Stirling-Dado Panel Repair
Stirling Dynamics Dado Panel Repair

Dado Panel Repair

A simple and cost-effective solution for B737 dado panels. Stirling Dynamics is offering a simple and cost-effective solution for B737 dado panels. Most dado panels show broken attachments during checks. This repair kit can be used for easy repair and also for preventative improvement of the panels.

Skytec Aerospace

Skytec Aerospace-logo

From idea to completion – Skytec stand as a trusted partner for exceptional engineering & certification services.

They are a leading certified EASA Design and Production Organisation specialised in aircraft cabin interior modifications. They have established themselves as experts in providing exceptional, tailor made solutions for aircraft cabin interiors. Their team is dedicated to providing bespoke solutions to meet the unique requirements of clients. From design and engineering to manufacturing & installation, they are committed to delivering exceptional quality and outstanding customer service every step of the the way.

Skytec Windscreen

Skytec Windscreen

The Skytec windscreen is developed for installation on Airbus A320-family aircraft (A318, A319, A320 and A321) with classic and enhanced cabin interior. Its innovative attachment allows a 5 inch movement of the windscreen without any shipside modifications. The unique modern design features a special frameless viewing window meeting the direct view requirements by still providing sufficient privacy for the cabin crew.

AmSafe Bridport

AmSafe Bridport-logo

Having gained tremendous experience working closely with customers to develop solution lead products over 50+ years, AmSafe Bridport have become a trusted advisor to all of our customers and the wider industry.

AmSafe Bridport design and manufactures restraints and speciality devices such as airframe barrier nets, sustainable cargo nets, mantle fire containment & protection products for the cabin and cargo hold. They are problem solvers and solution providers, designing and manufacturing engineered textile solutions for the safety & securement needs of the global aerospace and defence markets.

They specialise in engineering quality, innovative products that withstand high dynamic stress loads and provide safer, more efficient airframe restraints & barrier solutions and cargo handling & movement systems.

AmSafe Bridport Mantle™ Fire Protection Liners (FPL)
AmSafe Bridport Mantle™ Fire Protection Liners (FPL)

Mantle™ Fire Protection Liners (FPL)

Mantle FPLs provide a fire-resistant lining for the internal walls of aircraft to protect it against damage from onboard fire by minimising the spread of an onboard fire. FPLs are incredibly lightweight compared to heavier, traditionally used, insulation-style materials. Provisions for equipment/cabling to pass through the FPL can be incorporated and the flexible mantle material can be easily formed around aircraft features.

FEDERAL MOGUL Systems Protection

FEDERAL MOGUL offer a comprehensive line of high quality textile sleeves meant to offer abrasion, arc, fire and EMI protection. Their newly developed product range also includes innovative fixation systems.

FEDERAL MOGUL Systems Protection-logo

As the proud designer and manufacturer of Bentley-Harris products, they offer a comprehensive line of high quality solutions intended to protect or improve system performance across a broad range of applications.

With industry recognition through specifications from all major aircraft manufacturers worldwide, Tenneco’s aerospace / defense product line provides specially designed solutions to various segments of the aircraft market, including large commercial aircraft, fighter jets, business jets, regional jets, UAVs, and satellites.

federal-mogul-Roundit 2000NX GRIP
Federal Mogul Roundit 2000NX GRIP

Roundit 2000NX GRIP

Roundit 2000NX GRIP offers both the benefits of a protection and an fixation system. The hook part can be stuck on the structure so that the wire harness protected by the sleeve is directly attached on the wall. This solution is ideal for galleys & seats where traditional fixation systems can not be installed linked to the space they take. This system avoids to drill holes in the structure.

Schneller Llc

Schneller is a global manufacturer of innovative engineered decorative laminates, non-textile flooring, and thermoplastics for commercial airlines.

Schneller Llc-logo

Schneller is a premier single source provider of coordinated collections and custom décor of :

  • film Laminates for ceilings, window panels and bins
  • reinforced laminates for high abuse areas such as galleys and carts
  • thermoplastic sheets for seat components
  • and tough, slip-resistant non-textile floor covering all designed to meet the exacting requirements of our customer
schneller-AerFilm flex®
Schneller AerFilm flex®

AerFilm flex®

AerFilm flex® is Schneller’s newest decorative laminate film, providing superior formability. Engineered to cover complex, compound-curve 3-dimensional surfaces.

Wulfmeyer Aircraft Interior

Wulfmeyer Aircraft Interior is specialised in the development and manufacturing of unique customer solutions for self-adhesive and non-adhesive aircraft system PE-foam insulations, NTF (Wulfmeyer process) and security step floorings, hook & loop fasteners as well as various tapes.

For 60 years Wulfmeyer is accredited as a supplier to the Airbus Group and has been developing products in cooperation with Airbus, Airline and VIP customers for a wide range of aircraft types and fleets.

NTF - Wulfmeyer proccess
NTF – Wulfmeyer proccess

Wulfmeyer proccess

The light-weight materials used meet strict authority and manufacturer specifications (for example ABD0031, FAR 25.853).

This method alleviates the potential for NTF waving, bubbling, telegraphing, shrinkage and provides an impact protection which reduces the risk of corrosion to the floor structure.

Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) is the world’s leading marketplace for airlines and the aircraft manufacturer supply chain to meet. Find out more below.

Product Showcase: Aircraft Galleys & Galley Equipment

Product Showcase: Aircraft Galleys & Galley Equipment
aix 2023 top product interest bar chart

Last year, Aircraft Interiors Expo welcomed 102 companies showcasing galley and galley equipment products and services.

Similar to seating and aircraft manufacturers, galleys & galley equipment remained one of the top 5 most sought-after product categories at the show. For the next edition of the show, the AIX team look forward to some of the latest offerings from returning and new to the show aircraft manufacturers.

Bucher Leichtbau AG

Bucher Leichtbau AG-logo

Bucher are constantly working on innovative, user-friendly and sustainable solutions.

We no longer need to bother Newton to explain the laws of gravity. Or rather, how they can be overcome. In aircraft construction, the answers are well known. So Bucher focuses on lightness.

Lightness is the key idea and the driving force in everything they do. It enlightens what Bucher conceptualises, plans and implement in its Fällanden (Switzerland), Sinn-Fleisbach (Germany) and Everett (US) locations. In all of these locations, innovative customer-oriented solutions in lightweight construction emerge – for the aviation, air rescue and automotive industries.

Bucher Leichtbau ARCTICart


ARCTICartTM has proven to keep the temperature increase below 4°C for a period of over 20 hours without costly dry-ice. ARCTICartTM Ice-Packs can be used for additional peace-of-mind or to further extend the time for safe temperature preservation.

Unlike existing and less performing solutions for catering, ARCTICartTM is not only equipped with the latest insulation technology, similar to the one used for pharmaceutical logistics, but is also smartly designed to avoid any “thermal bridges”.

TT Electronics

TT Electronics-logo

TT Electronics enhance the passenger experience through solutions such as passenger cabin controls (PCUs), cabin lighting, suite controls and customised lighting features.

TT Electronics has led the market in customised human machine interface technologies for more than 30 years, partnering with customers to deliver HMI solutions that improve user experience, enhance communications and boost productivity.

With a long history of developing innovative solutions for the most demanding environments, including patented thin film backlighting, capacitive touch technology, integral RFI screening and flexible illumination techniques, the company is a trusted value-added partner to global OEMs in the aerospace, military, medical, industrial and transportation industries.

TT electronics Galley Equipment Interfaces
TT electronics Galley Equipment Interfaces

Galley Equipment Interfaces

TT provide enhanced control panel and illumination solutions for aircraft galleys. Their thin film backlighting and capacitive switching technologies deliver simple, clean and functional designs for galley and business class bar areas including refreshment makers, bar counters and cocktail tables.

International Water-Guard Industries Inc

International Water-Guard Industries Inc-logo

As the aviation industry still recovers from the effects of a global pandemic and passenger health receives unprecedented levels of attention. IWG is ready to contribute with powerful solutions.

For the past 30 years, IWG has been the industry leader in UV potable water treatment technology and water distribution system components for VIP and corporate aircraft worldwide.

IWG’s innovative solutions have expanded with a series of Aircraft On-Demand Water Heaters providing high flow rates, lightweight components, and small footprint. IWG is the world leader in flight-certified UV water treatment components, controls and monitoring systems that use ultraviolet light technology that provide passengers and crew with safe and fresh on-board drinking water at all times.

International Water-Guard Industries IWG UVL1 Water Filter


IWG-UVL1: A compact water disinfection component that ensures safe drinking water from any point of use on an aircraft. IWG’s newest water treatment component, IWG-UVL1, was developed using UV-C LED technology and designed for point of use disinfection applications.

The UVL1 is compact, light and easy to install. The unit’s controller provides optimized LED power activation to achieve up to 4,300 hours of disinfection and ensure the safety of aircraft water for up to five years or more

Diehl Aviation

Diehl Aviation logo

Diehl set themselves the goals of making travel increasingly more comfortable and safer, saving valuable resources, and presenting ground-breaking solutions to our customers in all business areas.

Diehl Aviation is a first-tier supplier for avionics solutions and preferred partner for cabin integration in the aerospace industry. The integrated product portfolio consists of interior lighting systems, air distribution systems, crew rest compartments, lavatories and refreshment rooms, floor-to-floor lining as well as galleys – also available as retrofit solutions.

Systems for water and air management, fire protection and further cabin electronics complement the company’s portfolio for aircraft interiors.

diehl Air Refrigeration Unit - ARU
Diehl Air Refrigeration Unit – ARU

Air Refrigeration Unit – ARU

The ARU has been completely re-imagined and is now at the very cutting edge of galley cooling performance and cost-effectiveness. A single plug-and-play ARU unit cools up to 6 trolleys at once, using intelligent cooling controls and automatically regulated fan speeds to increase efficiency.


IPECO logo

IPECO are all about enhancing the flight experience. Visit them to find out more about our ergonomic pilot and crew seating, stylish executive passenger jet seats and electric galley products.

Founded in 1960, Ipeco is a world leader in commercial & military aircraft crew seating and executive jet passenger seating, with an expanding presence in the electrical galley insert sector. They have an extensive capability to deliver these products and we operate around the globe 24/7 for AOG, spare parts distribution, repair services and in-service technical support.

IPECO Electric Galley Inserts

Electric galley inserts

The Ipeco range of electrical galley inserts for new and retrofit installations, available in both ATLAS and ARINC standards, combines technological innovation and robust performance with easy-to-use features, improving food service for airlines and operators worldwide. Lightweight and reliable, the aim is to ensure that cabin crew have the equipment they trust to deliver perfect results.


Techno Aerospace offers world class composite forming, interior monuments and decorative finishing, components and hardware, decorative electroplating, and luxury surfaces. Techno Aerospace is a full interiors company that combines engineering, analysis, manufacturing, and finishing with lean enterprise methodologies, to continually strengthen their customers’ business.

techno aerospace galley


Techno Aerospace turnkey galleys are designed and manufactured with functionality in mind while providing the durability needed to withstand day-to-day repetitive use. Their galleys are true turnkey, incorporating all mechanical and electrical systems and fully operationally function tested. A range of colour and finish options are available to integrate with any cabin environment.

Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) is the world’s leading marketplace for airlines and the cabin interiors galley equipment supply chain to meet. Find out more below.

The Latest Product Showcase: Airline Cabin Seating

The Latest Product Showcase: Airline Cabin Seating
aix 2023 top product interest bar chart

Last year, Aircraft Interiors Expo saw 151 suppliers who were showcasing seating products and solutions. The show also saw a 16% year on year growth in interest for these types of products for both visitors and airline buyers. 

Seating, galleys & galley equipment likewise stayed among the most prolific categories of products showcased at AIX. For the next edition of the show, the AIX team look forward to some of the latest airline cabin seating products that will be available to touch, test and onboard.

Iacobucci HF Aerospace

Iacobucci HF Aerospace Spa logo

Offering premium, durable and innovative products made in Italy, the self-professed “best in-class customer service” company is the first choice among elite airlines and private jet throughout the world.

Iacobucci HF Aerospace is worldwide leader, manufacturer and supplier of galley inserts and seating products. With over 40 years of experience, the company represents excellence in design, production, certification and distribution of espresso and coffee makers, water heaters, trash compactors, oven and cooking stations. But it’s their standard units and seats for commercial and business aviation that have piqued buyers’ interest.

Iacobucci HF Aerospace Spa cambiano
Iacobucci HF Aerospace Cambiano Airline Seat


The Cambiano features an innovative design and commitment to quality as well as attention to details and comfort. These are just some of the features that distinguish CAMBIANO, the seat by Iacobucci HF Aerospace, realised in collaboration with Pininfarina.

Specifically for business class, the hand-crafted seat combines a contemporary design with luxurious finishes ensuring the highest level of relaxation on board.

The one leaf meal tray is lightweight and comfortable and during the flight privacy is ensured thanks to the innovative shell’s design. In front of the seat, passengers can enjoy a private and convenient drawer, lined with Alcantara, for their personal belongings.

Sabeti Wain Aerospace Ltd

Sabeti Wain Aerospace Ltd logo

With close to 40 years’ experience in the industry, Sabeti Wain Aerospace is world renowned for exceptional craftsmanship, innovation and uncompromising quality.

A family run business fuelled by a passion for their craft, Sabeti Wain design and manufacture aircraft seat covers and cushion foams, specialising in laminated seat covers in leather and fabric, and foam conversion.

Their products include seat covers, arm caps, life vest pockets, curtains and acoustic panels for crew rests. Their customers include almost all seat manufacturers as well as many airlines.

sabetti-wain-Malaysian Airlines A350 First Class
Sabeti Wain Aerospace Dress Cover for Malaysian Airlines A350 First Class

Dress Cover for Malaysian Airlines A350 First Class

  • Seat: Thompson Aero
  • Materials: Botany and Muirhead
  • Design: Factory Design UK
  • Dress Cover: Sabeti Wain Aerospace

TCI Aircraft Interiors


TCI Aircraft Interiors provide innovative, reliable, competitive products with high added value without sacrificing quality.

Founded in 2023 through the merger of TCI Cabin Interior, TSI Seats and Cornea, TCI Aircraft Interiors is poised to become the preferred global supplier with its excellent engineering skills and innovative products.

TCI believe that excellence and the best passenger experience are at the heart of success when working on new designs to deliver products to our customers. TCI is developing and improving its products such as in-flight entertainment systems, connectivity systems, galleys, lavatories, business and economy class seats for wide-body and narrow-body aircraft types.

SKYSOFA by TCI aircraft interiors
TCI aircraft interiors SKYSOFA

SKYSOFA by TCI Aircraft Interiors

The SKYSOFA offers unrivalled quality and reliability for economy class seating solutions for wide-body aircraft types.

Offers an ultra-comfortable flight experience during long flights with articulated seat bottom, longer armrests, and footrests. Skysofa strikes the proper balance of durability and functionality for today’s market. First row seats are capable to be equipped with the 11,1’’ monitor in-arm design and in-arm tray tables.

Wencor LLC

Wencor LLC-logo

Wencor provides reliability, innovation and customised solutions for varying operational needs. They are an able partner for distribution services, PMA or DER repairs and technical options.

Wencor has been a global leader in the aftermarket aerospace industry for over 65 years. Their fundamental focus in lowering the cost of aircraft ownership and operations, improving component reliability and increasing availability for their customers has made them a trusted partner to the world’s airlines, MRO’s, OEM’s and defense companies.

They support commercial and defense aircraft through authorised distribution services, PMA design and development, DER/component repair services, kitting, USM, rotable exchanges, technical analysis and innovative engineering solutions.

Wencor Crew Seat Cushion Covers
Wencor Crew Seat Cushion Covers

Wencor Crew Seat Cushion Covers

Wencor PMA has two product improvements over the OEM original design; including covering two OEM PNs and easy pocket placement for pilot access. These improvements have increased pilot user satisfaction and airline Supply Chain from having to source/stock two different PNs. Applicable for Boeing crew seats only.


aviationscouts GmbH-logo

aviationscouts is glad to assist in optimising existing and future interior configurations by storing, cleaning, refurbishing and releasing them to service.

aviationscouts not only operates the leading online marketplace for surplus aircraft passenger seats, “”, where they bring buyers and sellers together, they also buy, store, overhaul and sell aircraft seats and interiors. With over 12,000 units of different seat models, they maintain one of the largest “ready to ship” inventories in the industry. In partnership with EASA approved partners they offer repair portfolio for seats and interiors at the local facility in Lichtenfels.

aviationscouts GmbH-overhaul seats
aviationscouts Aircraft Passenger Seats

aviationscouts Aircraft Passenger Seats

aviationscouts overhaul seats and make them like new! They can integrate change dress covers, cushions, do deep cleaning and inspect & repair.

STELIA Aerospace

STELIA Aerospace-logo

STELIA Aerospace offer a range of premium seat solutions, designed for single-aisle and widebody aircraft.

STELIA Aerospace is the Airbus Atlantic brand dedicated to cabin interior activity. For over 20 years, they’ve been designing and manufacturing some of the most advanced Business and First class seats on the market, offering an unrivalled level of perceived quality and comfort. Today they rank in the top three for Premium passenger seats thanks to the trust of over 50 airlines, including major players who are constantly pushing the boundaries of creativity and innovation in the aerospace industry.

OPAL® by STELIA Aerospace

OPAL® by STELIA Aerospace

Designed for efficiency, tailored for luxury, OPAL heightens comfort to new luxurious levels. A 26”-wide, 81”-long bed.

Geven SpA

Geven SpA-logo

For Geven SpA, aircraft cabins are the environment and passenger safety and comfort is the inspiration. Spanning the flight experience, Geven represents one of the world’s leading interior providers. Whether the provision concerns seats, insulation blankets, floor panels or monuments, Geven’s knowledge and half a century of activities and related experience enables them to understand their customers’ needs around the world.

Theydeliver customized solutions tailored to maximise operational efficiency, while providing maintainability, sustainability, comfort and safety.

Geven Essenza
Geven Essenza

Geven Essenza

Essenza fits high-density economy class sections with extra boost towards a more than minimal economy class ride — all in the very essence of Italian style, where less stands for more.

Aviointeriors SpA

Aviointeriors SpA-logo

Aviointeriors designs, certifies, manufactures and delivers high-quality aircraft passenger seats to leading airlines, lessors, MROs and aircraft OEMs.

Synthesys EVO-aviointeriors

Aviointeriors SpA Synthesys EVO

Synthesys EVO is a mechanical premium business class seat. The modular design and its flexibility to customisation allows the customer to bespoke the Synthesys for different use. Synthesys EVO will match and exceed customer expectations with the comfort and the quality of its components.

Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) is the world’s leading marketplace for airlines and the aircraft cabin interiors seating supply chain to meet. Find out more below.

Technology: Elevating Passenger (and Crew) Experience Onboard

Technology: Elevating Passenger (and Crew) Experience Onboard
man touching cabin control system on wall

Aviation is in an era where industry is constantly being propelled forward by technological innovation. Connected technologies can now have a a transformative impact on not just passenger experiences (PaxEx) but crew operations also.  

The reach of impact on inflight processes of:  

  • high-speed connectivity 
  • artificial intelligence (AI) 
  • extended reality (XR) (including augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR)

and even immersive In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity (IFEC) has never been broader. 

So how are connected technologies elevating the onboard experience? 

The ‘Tipping Point’ for connected technologies

As the aviation industry hurtles toward the future, the integration of connected technologies plays a pivotal role in redefining both passenger and crew experiences.  

The power of connected ecosystems in aerospace emphasises the importance of data-centric approaches. This allows for the ability to provide the right thing at the right time — whether that be to crew or passengers.  

Sensors and IoT

Sensors and the Internet of Things (IoT) are revolutionising how aircraft operate. Real-time data collection and analysis enable airlines to enhance safety, streamline operations, and elevate passenger experiences.  

ARINCDirect is just one implementation example, whereby dynamic monitoring tools allow for visual representations of aircraft locations, connectivity status, and network availability. 

But from a passenger point of view, this cabin solution also provides a suite of connectivity tools. Passengers can, among other things, utilise onboard cellular connectivity – without network roaming charges.  

GeniusLINK by KID Systeme GmbH
GeniusLINK by KID Systeme GmbH

High-speed connectivity

High-speed connectivity is not merely a luxury; it’s becoming a necessity for modern passengers. Near real-time SATCOM network monitoring and alerts for planned and unplanned connectivity outages can also ensure a seamless and uninterrupted internet connection, enhancing the overall passenger experience. 

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is another true game-changer that is optimising both in-flight processes and passenger interactions. From intelligent seat controls to predictive maintenance, AI is being tested and implemented throughout aircraft cabin interiors. 

The adoption of a new digital retailing platform, for example, by Air Europa illustrates how AI enhances the booking process, providing a more flexible and customer-centric experience. The “frictionless” system will be able to offer personalised, revenue-optimal offers to passengers based on data. 

End-to-end architecture for cloud and data

The aviation industry’s move towards end-to-end architecture for cloud and data is creating a comprehensive ecosystem. This interconnected network also enables seamless data sharing and integration, breaking silos within organisations and fostering collaborative development with third parties. 

Connectivity’s role in passenger experience

Onboard connectivity extends beyond simply internet access and entertainment for passengers onboard. It allows for improved monitoring and relay of a2g data  

Connected aviation also goes beyond passenger experiences; it enables the analysis of vast amounts of data generated by aircraft systems. This data-driven approach allows for targeted improvements in operations, demonstrating the potential of connected ecosystems in transforming the aviation industry. 

But onboard connectivity also encompasses digital retailing platforms. Air Europa’s Chief Information Officer, Víctor M. Herrero, emphasises the importance of a frictionless shopping and buying experience, highlighting the role of digital solutions in increasing conversion and ancillary sales which are, of course, key to a carrier’s success. 

AirFi LEO (Low Earth Orbit) low-bandwidth connectivity solution
AirFi LEO (Low Earth Orbit) low-bandwidth connectivity solution

Moreover, a modern interface with the aforementioned intuitive navigation is central to providing passengers with a user-friendly experience. Collins Aerospace’s cabin solution enhancements, for example, focus on alerting passengers for planned and unplanned connectivity outages, ensuring a smooth and trouble-free journey. 

The future of connectivity: Synergy in the ecosystem

The future of connectivity lies in the synergy of these ecosystems. As such, connectivity becomes the thread that weaves together a comprehensive “System-of-Systems” in the connected aerospace landscape. 

PaxEx: Elevating amenities and accommodations

The ability to leverage data to offer passengers the right thing at the right time has not yet fully outweighed “the human touch”. Beyond the realms of technology, the human touch remains a crucial aspect of elevating the passenger experience.  

That’s why airlines are still investing in innovative cabin designs, intuitive seat controls, and luxurious amenities. For example, KLM’s business class product for its 777s exemplifies this commitment, offering passengers not just comfort but an immersive journey as we see the advent of seats with features like “do not disturb” capabilities. 

Transformative entertainment and connectivity

Immersive In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity (IFEC) is also inarguable in how it redefines how passengers experience air travel. IFEC is still one of the chief satisfaction contributors for airline passengers.  

Platforms like Flymingo IFEC offerne hardware platforms that also simplify crew operations and enhance safety. With real-time information at their fingertips, cabin crew can focus on providing the best possible passenger experience. 

Connected ecosystems bring about a revolution in business and operating models. Aerospace companies are transitioning from a product-focused approach to a product-plus-services model, unlocking new revenue streams and growth opportunities. Connectivity enables these companies to offer a range of services alongside core products, transforming the aviation industry’s business landscape. 

hand touching cabin control system

Connected aviation goes beyond providing seamless internet access. It empowers airlines to navigate the vast landscape of data generated by aircraft systems. Collins Aerospace’s expertise in connected ecosystems, for example, enables operators to transform data into actionable insights, enhancing operations in targeted ways. 

“It’s not enough to simply aggregate and store this data. We need to put this data to use.” 

Jennifer Schopfer 
President, Connected Aviation Solutions business Unit, Collins Aerospace 

The impact of AI on passengers and crew

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is similarly not an area of opportunity that should be overlooked by carriers and is not confined to passenger interactions alone. Its impact extends to crew operations and overall airline efficiency.  

Airlines are leveraging AI during various processes, including boarding and ordering, with the hardware enabling these advancements becoming increasingly integral to the aviation industry. 

Emirates, for example, are one carrier using generative AI to offer comprehensive training programmes to crew. 

“Extended Reality (XR) is a rapidly emerging technology that will propel the aviation industry into the future.” 
Al Opher 
Vice President, Professional Services, AWS

As such, Artificial Intelligence has the potential to not just be a buzzword; but rather a revolution in the skies. Airlines are leveraging AI during various processes, from boarding to ordering, transforming the entire travel experience. Swiss’s trial use of AI during the boarding process, for one, and British Airways’ personalised service and use of AI to improve operations showcase the growing impact and adoption of AI in enhancing passenger services. 

Aviation’s connected future

To navigate the rapidly changing future of the aviation industry, suppliers and airlines will have to consider their fiscal and strategic investment in the technologies mentioned. The synergy of connected technologies will be key for tastemakers, passengers and cabin interiors designers, suppliers and buyers.  

From enhancing passenger experiences to optimising crew operations, it’s clear that development in IFEC, AI and more have put the aviation industry on a trajectory of innovation.  

AIX stands as the epicenter of this journey, bringing together industry leaders, innovators, and stakeholders to discuss, redefine and do business. The future of air travel is not just about reaching destinations; it’s about creating seamless, immersive, and unforgettable journeys. 

Creating the cabin of the future at Aircraft Interiors Expo 2024

Creating the cabin of the future at Aircraft Interiors Expo 2024

Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) will return to the Hamburg Messe from 28-30 May 2024,showcasing cutting-edge advances in aircraft cabin systems, In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity (IFEC), sustainable cabins and more.

Next year’s edition will shine a light on the latest trends and serve as the global platform dedicated to transforming the passenger experience and creating the cabin of the future.

Last year’s event attracted a myriad of airlines, designers, engineers, specifiers, and manufacturers, with visitor attendance increasing by almost two thirds (59%) on the previous year. Plans for the 2024 show are well underway, with AIX set to provide the industry with a chance to identify pioneering solutions, network with industry colleagues, and understand how accessibility and sustainability will impact aircraft interiors in the short and long term.

Transforming the skies

As airlines, OEMs, suppliers, and designers gear-up for modernisation strategies, AIX will provide a platform to discover the technologies, services, and hardware that can enhance every aspect of the cabin. From seating, galley equipment, lighting, and LEDs, to cabin management systems, IFEC hardware, and communications, the event will enable attendees to collaborate and find practical and innovative solutions from more than 400 suppliers.

AIX inmarsat stand with visitors walking past

Returning to the show floor in 2024 will be all the major industry players, including Boeing, Airbus, Recaro, Safran, Panasonic Avionics, and Collins Aerospace — reaffirming the event’s position as the world’s leading marketplace for airlines and the supply chain to meet. Complementing the major OEMs and suppliers, the show will also welcome companies exhibiting at the show for the first time: Comi Aerospace, LXM Aero GmbH, PETER-LACKE GmbH, and Skytec Aerospace will be among those presenting their solutions and services at AIX.

Redefining the onboard experience

Taking place on the day before AIX opens its doors (27 May), the Passenger Experience Conference (PEC) will return to the Hamburg Messe in 2024, once again featuring an impressive roster of high-profile experts from across a range of sectors. The eagerly anticipated all-day conference provides an unparalleled platform for professionals, airlines, and the global supply chain to come together and immerse themselves in some of the most pressing issues and trends facing the passenger experience sector.

From cutting-edge technologies to revolutionary design concepts, and focusses on core themes including accessibility, diversity, and sustainability, PEC’s speakers will explain the transformative advancements that promise to redefine the passenger experience. Delegates will also have the opportunity to delve into the trends and topics that will determine their future strategies through a series of talks and sessions from keynote speakers and guests.

man and woman talking at AIX

The ultimate meeting place

Not only will AIX and PEC provide attendees with the chance to learn about the trends shaping the cabin of tomorrow and explore the latest innovations, but they also act as industry meeting points and facilitate unrivalled collaboration and networking. Following the final session of PEC on Monday evening, attendees will be able to connect and unwind at the Welcome Party. Promising an atmosphere of collaboration and celebration, visitors can make new contacts and strengthen existing relationships in an informal setting, ahead of AIX commencing on Tuesday, 28 May.

Attendees to the event can also use the intuitive AIX Connect tool to proactively book meetings with relevant contacts ahead of the event. Its search function enables visitors and exhibitors to discover new contacts, helping them prepare and book meetings before even setting foot in Hamburg.

Polly Magraw, Event Director of Aircraft Interiors Expo, said:

“The industry’s unwavering support has continued to propel AIX forward. As we gear up for the 2024 edition, this year’s show will take cabin concepts to new heights, showcasing a compelling line-up of speakers and sessions that provide solutions for every aspect of the cabin interiors sector.

We look forward to bringing together experts and visionaries from airlines, OEMs, suppliers, and designers to discuss the future of the passenger experience.”

Passenger Experience Conference (PEC), Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) and World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE) return to Hamburg Messe from 28-30 May 2024. Together, all three events provide airlines, lessors, and business jet operators with a unique opportunity to transform onboard environments, address consumer expectations, and deliver exceptional travel experiences.

Visitor registration will open in February 2024. To register your interest to attend, visit the website:

Towards Aerospace Circularity in the Cabin

Towards Aerospace Circularity in the Cabin

In a linear economy, industries produce or extract raw materials from nature, convert them into products, and then discard them as waste. This contributes to the rising climate, biodiversity, and pollution crises. However, a suitable foil for this is embracing a circular economy. So how can carriers and suppliers incorporate aerospace circularity to achieve sustainability goals

What is aerospace circularity? 

Aerospace circularity, also known as circular aviation or a circular economy, is a way of designing, making, and using products within planetary boundaries (boundaries within which humanity can continue to develop and thrive) or to maintain the stability of earth. As such, recirculating products rather than discarding them after use minimises waste and greenhouse gas emissions. 

A circular economy would encourage aviation to produce high-quality aircraft cabin interiors while minimising the demand for natural resources. Circularity promotes the use of materials in a continuous cycle, mirroring natural processes and eliminating the need for additional input or waste. 

How does circularity relate to the cabin interiors industry? 

Aerospace circularity influences how aircraft cabin components and designs are developed, produced, maintained, and disposed of. 

In FlyZero’s bespoke circular economy model for the cabin sector, for example, it’s shown that only part of the industry is practicing circularity by recycling materials into other industries, refitting onto other aircraft, or selling to other operators during the end-of-life stage. 

The lack of appropriate material marking or data sharing between OEMs, airlines, and recyclers is one barrier to the effective realisation of circularity. Material marking helps OEMs, airlines, and recyclers identify the types of materials used throughout the cabin product life cycle. Some materials are more volatile, thus the importance of material marking. Data transparency across the cabin product life cycle will help find cost-effective materials that can be recycled. 

“Life cycles are much shorter in the cabin, and there are structural solutions that can be implemented right now.” 

Sandra Bour Schaeffer, SVP Procurement Cabin and Cargo, Airbus 

Branding is also a challenge, as nearly half of cabin interiors are customised. To apply aerospace circularity, airlines can homogenise the designs for cabin furniture in all classes. This enables re-customisation should cabin products be re-sold. It minimises the manufacturing impact of customisation while maximising experiential differentiation for the customer. 

Circularity also needs to be scaled up to business models in the whole cabin industry, not just to individual cabin OEMs. Moreover, the industry should consider what to do during end-of-life scenarios and how to maintain cabin products in the higher-value phases of their lifecycles. 

Aerospace circularity is crucial to cabin interiors, particularly in selecting aircraft cabin structures. Recycling cabin materials can sometimes lead to inconsistent structural and visual performance, which makes them unfit for in-flight application by authorities. The industry needs to develop strategies and certification approaches that will not limit the use of recycled cabin interiors. 

Airbus cabin interior

Why is aerospace circularity important? 

AIX and PAX Tech Magazine discussed how the role of the circular economy in cabin construction is crucial to the overall sustainability goals of aviation. Aerospace circularity helps the industry have a holistic lifecycle view. This, in turn, will allow for the development of an infrastructure that will support sustainable activity and look for new recycled materials and solutions for the market. 

“I am pleasantly surprised about the discussions taking place from sustainability to production sites.” 

François Delaleu, Purchaser, Air France 

Cabin interiors are resource-intensive, and circularity promotes resource efficiency, longer lifespans, and easier repair and refurbishment. Aerospace circularity also helps the sector comply with sustainability requirements and minimises costs. 

Circularity is a key enabler for a more sustainable cabin. It involves responsible management of materials, design, manufacturing, operations, and end of life. It allows for a common lifecycle assessment baseline and comparisons, consolidating data and tools for sustainability standards. 

“The popularity of this show makes it very sustainable for people to find new products but also for suppliers to talk and problem solve on a wider scale”  

Eniz Sahbegovic, Head of Sales & Marketing, ZIM Aircraft Seating GmbH 

What are airlines/suppliers doing?

Aviation has been exploring various circular economy principles

Gatwick Airport, for example, converts organic waste into biomass fuel, while Torino Airport cultivates chamomile in its green areas to promote biodiversity and minimise the risk of wildlife strikes. 

The Dutch airport company, Royal Schiphol Group (RSG), has several circularity programmes, one of which is its collaboration with Philips, wherein airport lights will be given to them during the end-of-life phase for recycling. 

Cabin interior suppliers are also adhering to aerospace circularity. 

Diab Group has developed a thermoplastic sandwich panel for aerospace cabin interiors that is 100% recyclable. Meanwhile, Huntsman and V-Carbon Technologies joined forces to recover carbon fibre material systems that could be integrated into existing manufacturing platforms.  

Recycling aluminium from decommissioned aircraft and reintegrating it in the aerospace value chain is the goal of Constellium SE and TARMAC Aerosave’s partnership. 

Adient Aerospace, a joint venture between Boeing and automotive seating manufacturer Adient, employs thinner and lighter materials to improve fuel efficiency. Boeing uses crop flax on its sustainable wall panels, which can also be applied in manufacturing seat shells, aircraft cabin walls, and other elements. Airbus reduces the environmental impact of the cabin interior supply chain through smart digital solutions, like the Internet of Things. 

cabin attendant with recycling bag

Attaining sustainable aviation through aerospace circularity

Aerospace circularity is an approach that mainly relies on the extraction of the maximum value from resources in use and keeps materials in circulation for as long as possible. It is being applied in aviation, from converting waste into biomass fuel to using materials complemented by recycling strategies.  

Cabin interior suppliers are also practicing circularity, like recovering carbon fibre and aluminium. 

While circularity in aviation is valuable, it still comes with challenges, such as significant upfront investments and difficulties in finding recyclable materials that meet aviation safety and performance standards. 

FlyZero adds that the cabin is one of the most difficult parts of an aircraft to apply circular economy principles to because it requires intra-sector and cross-sector partnerships. Currently, the industry lacks material and product flows at viable scales. OEMs also rely mostly on less eco-friendly designs and materials. 

To achieve sustainable aviation, the industry needs to develop more efficient and consistent solutions to reduce environmental impact without sacrificing passenger comfort or economic growth. While some sustainability efforts are underway, there is a lack of green action in end-of-life solutions, maintenance, operations, and production.

Aerospace circularity is expected to address environmental challenges beyond in-flight operations and even in the production of air vehicles and cabin interiors. 

Is Sustainability in the Cabin the Key to Net Zero?

Is Sustainability in the Cabin the Key to Net Zero?

All industries are making efforts to minimise their environmental impact, and aviation is no exception. The aviation sector is working hand-in-hand with governments and regulatory bodies to improve efficiency measures, fuel consumption, and carbon capture technologies, among other initiatives. But one particular area being focused on is sustainable cabins and their vital role in a zero-carbon future. 

What are the current initiatives? 

The goal of net-zero carbon emissions in the aviation industry is a complex and long-term one that requires coordinated efforts from multiple stakeholders. Collaboration among airlines, manufacturers, governments, research institutions, and organisations is essential to accelerate the development and deployment of sustainable aviation technologies and practices. 

Between 2005 and 2019, airline carriers reduced their fuel consumption per passenger kilometre by approximately 39%, according to a McKinsey analysis. The study reveals that the underlying factors behind fuel efficiency gains came from fleet upgrades and fuel-efficiency programmes, such as continuous descent approaches, reduced engine taxis, and optimised routes. 

Carbon offsetting is another strategy that the aviation sector is using to take immediate action to combat climate change. Some of the airlines that offer carbon offset programmes include Emirates, Qantas, Virgin Australia, Delta Airlines, and British Airways. 

Airports are also adopting different sustainable practices, from using renewable energy sources to implementing energy-efficient infrastructure. Additionally, the industry has been switching to biometrics for screening and check-in at airports. For instance, Alaska Airlines will start to remove its check-in kiosks in airports in 2024 to go digital and “paperless”. 

So what actions is the sector taking when it comes to the cabin? 

Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs) vs. cabin interiors design 

One of the primary strategies in the industry is the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs) to significantly minimise carbon emissions. With SAFs crucial part in the aviation industry’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions, the question arises: are SAFs the real key to meeting aviation’s net-zero goals?  

The International Energy Agency (IATA) estimates that SAFs can contribute up to 65% to the reduction of emissions in the industry. However, it’s not the sole solution. One problem is that the technology to produce SAFs themselves is not yet economically sustainable.  

Production currently costs costs four times as much as conventional jet fuel. Plus, it makes up less than 1% of fuel available in the market. According to Rhodium Group‘s research, US production of SAF is around 4.5 million gallons per year. This is still not enough to fully decarbonize aviation by 2050, and carriers and suppliers want to act now. 

“Most countries in Europe are waiting for the big countries to produce [SAFs]… No European country will be in a condition to produce enough to export anything, because this is transformation to a level we’ve never seen before. So, it is important that every country takes action.”  

Rafael Schvartzman, IATA regional VP for Europe 

Consequently, in recent years, the demand for updating aeroplane interiors sustainably has also significantly increased. That is just one driving factor meaning that the aircraft refurbishing market is expected to reach a market value of US$5.4 billion by 2033 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.7% (2023–2023).  

A vital element in the aviation industry’s drive towards a zero-carbon future is cabin interior manufacturing. Maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) plays a crucial role in the aviation industry and can also ensure that older aircraft are more environmentally friendly by aligning cabin components with current standards and regulations.  

The primary purpose of SAFs is to replace conventional fossil jet fuels with more environmentally friendly alternatives. SAFs can significantly lower emissions compared to conventional jet fuels.  

Meanwhile, the focus of cabin interior design is largely on the passenger experience. But many manufacturers are implementing greener practices, such as recycling and repurposing materials, to drive sustainability.  

Cabin interior design can indirectly affect emissions by improving the aircraft’s efficiency and passenger experience. For instance, sustainable cabins with light materials can reduce fuel consumption by decreasing the aircraft’s weight. Cabins may not have a direct impact on the environment, but the way they are manufactured and operated does. 

The BDLI Cabin/Cargo Working Group believes that aircraft cabins are vital in reducing the aviation industry’s ecological footprint. The cabin and its operations represent 10–20% of the overall environmental impact during the entire lifecycle of an aircraft. Therefore, sustainable cabins offer plenty of opportunities for fostering decarbonisation, recycling, and circularity. 

To achieve sustainability while maintaining superior levels of passenger comfort, Airbus launched its Airspace Cabin Vision 2035+, mainly focusing on three pillars:  

  • Transparency 
  • Decarbonisation 
  • Circularity 

Airbus will provide full transparency about the environmental impact of its cabin parts and operations and increase the use of full lifecycle analysis.  

The company will also introduce new cabin interior solutions and materials with low carbon dioxide impacts. Airbus estimates that using bionic design and biomimicry on their cabins can reduce the weight of all structural and lining elements by up to 40%. Finally, Airbus will integrate the next-generation cabin using hydrogen-powered aircraft, which will reduce emissions intensity. 

business coach airplane seat

Credit: Pixabay 


Sustainable cabins can contribute to net-zero goals through lightweighting. Airlines can generate fuel savings between 0.65% and 0.85% by simply choosing lighter seats and other weight-reduction practices. And at a fraction of the overall cost, opting for lightweight interior options can produce a high return on investment.  

Well-designed aircraft interiors, such as cabins, In-Flight Entertainment (IFE), lavatory, or security systems, that use lightweight materials also help operational savings. Anything that requires less cleaning, fewer repairs and replacements of spare parts equals less supply chain involvement and therefore greater carbon savings. 

Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) carefully select materials used for cabin interiors not only to improve passenger comfort and safety but also to enhance product design and operators’ green credentials.  

Designers at Boeing, for instance, have been working with several seat manufacturers to use lighter-weight components like titanium and carbon fibre frames. 

Carbon composites are also a great material for sustainable cabins, known to provide weight savings and durability without sacrificing strength. Replacing traditional aluminium in manufacturing aircraft components has helped reduce the overall weight of aircraft like the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 by 20%.  

Traditional aluminium can be found on various parts of aircraft like, the trims, rivets, fuselage, doors, wings, cabin pillars, and more. However, fibre-reinforced matrix systems are largely stronger. The huge benefits of composite materials include providing a smooth surface as they don’t corrode easily and holding up well in structural flexing environments. As such, using composite materials for airline cabins can also mean lower maintenance and repair costs. 

The French designer Expliseat uses advanced materials like carbon fibre and titanium, which make their aviation seats approximately 35% lighter. Note that an individual aviation seat typically weighs from 11 kg (short range) up to 17 kg (long range). This means that aircraft with between 100-700 seats may have a total seat weight of between 1.4-12 tonnes (approx.).  

Expliseat’s line of aviation seats produces lower seat mass, which in turn contributes to sustainable aviation. The company will deliver its new TiSeat E2 model to Kuwaiti’s Jazeera Airways by 2024. This is projected to deliver a substantial weight savings of 1.2 metric tonnes per aircraft


An aircraft may be built to be structurally sound for years, but it will eventually show signs of wear and tear, which can be more apparent in aircraft cabins. This is where retrofitting becomes part of an aircraft’s lifecycle. 

Airline cabin retrofitting may include modifying seats to be thinner so more can be added, which can reduce the fuel required to transport each passenger. In addition, one study showed that aircraft cabins with elevated ozone levels may impact people with respiratory health impairments. Also, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) come with short- and long-term adverse health effects.  

As such, retrofitting cabins can mitigate ozone and volatile organic compounds in cabin-air environments. Other types of airline cabin retrofitting that can reduce energy consumption involve the installation of energy-efficient systems, better waste management, the incorporation of noise-reducing materials and engineering solutions, and upgrades to avionics systems. 

United Airlines, for instance, has been working on a retrofitting project since 2021. Its fleet of Boeing 737-800s underwent cabin retrofitting and now comes with new, larger overhead bins. The seats are equipped with LED lighting, USB and charging ports, Bluetooth connectivity, and refreshed lavatories.  

airplane cabin components - sockets

Digitising sustainability?

Carriers and manufacturers are rapidly producing technological advancements that are allowing the aviation sector needs to adapt to a digital future. Although, the concept of digitisation should also aim to solve environmental challenges without creating unreasonable expenses airline adopters. 

For instance, Inmarsat offers digitalised air traffic management (ATM) infrastructure to airlines. ATM can reduce delays and enable a more efficient service by safely bringing a number of aircraft closer together in the same airspace. By their estimations, with current ATM infrastructures, airlines may be sacrificing 23% fuel efficiency

Another example is IATA’s digital toolkit. With this suite of digital tools, airports can estimate carbon dioxide emissions associated with construction projects. So, whenever airports have development projects for terminal buildings, runways, and multi-story car parks, the digital toolkit can analyse the project’s carbon footprint. Then, authorities can discuss the results with airport operators and find a way to mitigate them. 

Applying digitisation in airline cabins boosts passenger engagement through in-flight entertainment systems, mobile apps, and interactive displays. AERQ’s Personal Electronic Device (PED)-friendly inseat system, for instance, allows passengers to customise and deploy applications directly to the seatback display.  

Passengers can easily connect to Wi-Fi or pair their devices with Bluetooth for an upscale entertainment experience. And these can also be used to inform people on narratives regarding carbon offset programmes, sustainable travel practices, and ways to minimise their environmental footprint.  

Airlines can also customise the content of the seatback system to display food, beverages, or products that can be bought on board. This eliminates the need to print out menus or brochures, as passengers can easily navigate through their options digitally. 

Digitisation can also ensure cabins are maintained efficiently without compromising on sustainability. This is evident in the case study led by Air France KLM Group IT and AirInt Services. Their solution was to go digital to simplify process of inspection and defect reporting. In turn, with the delivery of accurate and reliable data, they will reduce the likelihood of mechanical issues that can result in fuel inefficiency. 

interior photography of airline seats

Credit: Unsplash 

Sustainable cabins are vital 

As part of overall efforts to reduce the environmental impact of air travel, airline cabins undoubtedly play a significant role. Cabin interior manufacturing and supply chain management can buoy sustainability goals whilst the lightweighting of components can contribute throughout their lifecycle. 

Incorporating lightweight materials, including composite materials, into cabin construction can reduce the weight of the aircraft, which can minimise the amount of fuel needed to operate. Airline cabin retrofitting can also improve cabin-air environments to keep passengers and crew members safe and healthy.  

Subsequently, digitalisation in airline cabins is not just for the connectivity needs of travellers or crew. Digital-forward cabins can also be utilised to promote various sustainable practices, allowing passengers to be informed on the work done by airlines and how to minimise their environmental footprint further. 

Overall, sustainable cabin innovations are vital to a holistic consideration when formulating strategies on achieving net-zero carbon targets. 

Frequently asked questions

What are the 4 pillars of aviation sustainability? 

ATA developed a 4-pillar strategy as a guide for the entire aviation industry, covering aircraft R&D and economic and social measures to reduce emissions. The four pillars include: 

  • Technology 
  • Operations 
  • Infrastructure 
  • Socio-Economic Initiatives 

Technology covers propulsion systems and recommends adding the latest fuel-efficient aircraft to the global aviation fleet. Operations throughout the entire aviation industry should be overseen. Infrastructure should work on both the needs of air and ground. Socio-economic initiatives like taxation, emissions trading, and carbon offset programmes should be promoted.

How can the aerospace industry contribute to sustainability? 

The aerospace industry can implement decarbonisation measures to contribute to sustainability. For one, manufacturers can enhance engine designs or explore the use of lightweight fabrication material for improved fuel efficiency. The aerospace industry can also rely on urban air mobility to further shape sustainability.  

Electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) and drone deliveries have zero emissions since they are electrically powered. Moreover, the aerospace sector can take advantage of advanced propulsion systems like solar, hybrid, electric, or fuel cell technologies to achieve better fuel efficiency, which can significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Why is sustainability important in aviation? 

Aerorplanes emit around 100 times more carbon dioxide than buses or trains. The aviation industry also emits an estimated 2.4% of global carbon dioxide annually. Sustainability in aviation is an important concern as carbon dioxide emissions pose a serious threat to the planet through climate change. The industry needs to reduce its environmental impact and contribute its share in mitigating this whilst improving efficiency and reducing costs for a sustainable future.