The biggest plane manufacturer in Europe, Airbus, has disclosed that it will convert aircraft cargo holds into relaxation and sleeping compartments for passengers. Airbus is working on the concept with aviation equipment supplier Zodiac Aerospace. The development will offer fliers in economy class a break from their cramped seating allowing them to lie on sofas or capsule-style beds or even pass time in kids’ play areas or at work desks. Unveiling of the designs took place at the yearly Aircraft Interiors Expo which was held in Hamburg.
However the relaxation and sleeping compartments will not be available to passengers during landing or take-off. The beds will also be housed in modules that are removable and which can be interchanged with cargo containers. Besides bunk beds, play areas for children and work spaces complete with desks and meeting rooms, the mock-ups also revealed medical care center and standing bar area. Additionally some of the areas could be converted into a fine-dining restaurant as well as a gym.
“Airlines came to us to see how they can better utilize the space in their aircraft. With lower deck use, they can also generate more revenue without having to spend money to change the aircraft or add business-class seats,” said Airbus’ head of cargo and cabin, Geoff Pinner.
There will be no rebuilding costs as the relaxation and sleeping compartments would fit in the existing cargo space and thus the plane’s structure, loading system and cargo floor will remain untouched.
Still in the early concept stages the innovative design will be adapted once there is an airline ready to experiment with the project. According to Pinner the concept will endeavor to meet the safety requirements as outlined by U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency.
It is expected that the development phase of the concept will start by 2020. If and when approval is given Airbus will roll out the concept on the A330 for long-haul flights. So far over 150 of these planes possess lower deck facilities. The concept might also be integrated into the A350 in future.
Airbus already utilizes lower deck spaces on the A340 by locating the toilets there. On the A330 the location of the crew rest areas is in the lower decks.
Not all designs conceived by Zodiac Aerospace get to be adopted though. Three years ago the aviation equipment supplier firm filed a patent which proposed having screens in the lower cabin area that would display the outside of a plane as it flew.