Aviation enthusiasts and industry professionals gathered for the highly anticipated Aircraft Interiors Expo 2023 and were met with an impressive showcase of innovation and comfort amongst the latest market trends. This year's expo provided the opportunity to explore the latest advancements in aircraft cabin design, technology, and passenger experience whilst focussing on the future of air travel.
A conversation that echoed throughout the event was airlines' excitement about the increasing travel demand, so much so that they are struggling to get hold of aircraft, new or used, quickly enough to fulfil the surging demand. We spoke to operators requesting retrofit solutions on 30-year-old single-aisle aircraft for LED and floor path marking, with plans to operate them for another 10 years. Retrofit was a common trend during the expo, with a low cost carrier now considering the option for their fleet - something that was previously rare due to strict policies on operating only young aircraft with maintenance and fuel efficiency, but lack of availability has forced the shift in extending operations.
As expected, new platforms will only make developments if engine manufacturers can reduce fuel burn by at least 20% so it’s safe to assume there will be nothing new until 2035 on this front.
In terms of product trends, dark seats with contrasting tonal highlights were a popular design which the STG team loved and envisioned the latest AIX launch product, The Curve, to accompany seamlessly. Designers continue to move away from high contrast colour displays within business class seats and first class suites. Instead, they need high-quality white light to reflect the clean look of their CMF (colour material finish) palettes. The Curve offers high CRI (colour rendering index) and tunable white light, to adapt the shade of white to cooler or warmer tones, which can create depth within the seat geometry. Using the section addressable technology, even light washes can be created despite curved geometry, and this is done by dimming the light intensity at certain points along the length of the unit.
Dynamic lighting displays were a popular product with lit logo panels making several appearances; a trend that continues to prove popular amongst airlines. Many like their ability to add interest to cabin designs and we are seeing an increase in adding them to wall panels for added dimension. As these displays can easily be removed, they’re a great option for lease aircraft that need to be returned to their original state.
The topic of sustainability remains a slightly blurred area for the industry, but SMEs are taking action into their own hands and doing what they can to be more eco-conscious. Airbus unveiled its new concept for shaping future aircraft cabin interiors, with a focus on achieving sustainability through smart systems and biomimicry. They aim to ‘harness traceability to recycle and re-use materials including polymers’ and to introduce ‘pre-ordered catering – either collected by passengers before boarding or, for long flights, stored on board – to offer greater choice to travellers, and reduce food waste’ but wonder how realistic the concept will be and whether it will flow into real life.
As always, Aircraft Interiors Expo 2023 provided an immersive and enlightening experience, offering a glimpse into the future of aviation. The show painted a compelling picture of what’s to come in the next few years and inspired us to keep innovating. As always, it was great to see familiar and new customers at this year’s event and we eagerly anticipate the newest innovations leaping into action.