With 2023 firmly in the rear-view mirror and all eyes now on what’s to come, the commercial aviation market has an exciting year of opportunities ahead. After attending multiple industry events around the world this year, Rhian Bache, Product Manager at STG Aerospace, makes her predictions of what the top cabin interior trends will be in 2024.
Plans for a greener future
Sustainability continues to be a top priority for the entire industry, as organisations work hard to focus on this. Many companies will be working on ways to make their products more sustainable. The increased availability of environmentally friendly materials has provided aerospace manufacturers an opportunity to improve existing product lines. It’s important for aviation businesses to ensure transparency, and to avoid trying to make products appear greener than they truly are.
A way to approach sustainability is to think about the wider product life cycle as a whole, rather than focusing all attention on fuel burn and carbon emissions during on-wing use. As this is the main life cycle phase it is important to address this. Yet remember that wins can be made across the entirety of a product’s life to create a larger total impact. It will undoubtedly be a challenge throughout the sector. However, if businesses are clear and realistic about their goals, positive steps can be made towards a promising future across the life of a product. STG are at the beginning of this journey and are making improvements based on analysis of where we can make the biggest impact.
Rules and regulations
The EU has introduced a regulation that bans fluorescent lights as part of a commitment to reduce the use of mercury. The cut off for the new regulation to be implemented is 2025, however, designers must be thinking about alternative technology now, to avoid supply chain risk.
As a result of the pending regulation, we can expect an increase in alternatives such as LED plug and play programmable lighting systems, like our liTeMood® range. They act as a direct replacement for fluorescent lighting systems but offer increased capability, longer life span and a weight reduction of up to 45kg on a A330.
Another regulation that will influence 2024 trends is the FAA’s new rules for lavatories on single-aisle aircraft. The regulations aim to ensure that all air transportation systems are fully accessible to all passengers. Airlines are now required to make lavatories on new single-aisle aircraft large enough to permit a passenger with a disability and an attendant, to approach, enter, and manoeuvre within the lavatory.
In light of the changes, there will be an opportunity for manufacturers to create solutions for airlines that enhance these facilities. Designers can re-evaluate the lavatory space in its entirety, including lighting and where signage is located, to ensure all elements are inclusive and practical, as well as safe and aesthetically sound. Our photoluminescent signage, for example, can be used to provide visual queues when the lavatory lighting is dimmed during night flights. As the signage requires no electrical power source so there is no wiring and the product is very slimline making it easy to include within monument architecture. Features such as hand holds and door latches can be easily highlighted.
Retrofitting old aircraft remained high on the agenda throughout 2023, due to the ongoing shortage of aircraft available. We know that airlines are keen to maintain their high standards and meet the needs and expectations of passengers, which forces them to think of new ways to refresh the cabin and enhance the overall aesthetic. Until OEMs can keep up with the high demands of airlines, lighting will continue to be a simple option that delivers significant results.
Our customers, especially low-cost carriers, are looking for fast, risk-free wins to update their cabins at minimal cost and with low resource commitment. Popular options are products that are quick to install and require minimal engineering input, yet offer maximum effect on the whole cabin.
Fleet harmonisation will remain a priority as airlines continue to see the value in positive passenger experience. It’s important for the look and feel of the cabin to be aesthetically consistent across the fleet, despite some aircraft being older than others.
For both of these reasons STG’s saf-Tglo® SSUL-X11™ and liTeMood® products are great options. SSUL-X11™ instantly opens up the feel of the aisle area making the whole cabin feel less cramped. Available in over 100 approved colours, matt and gloss finish and patented blue and green glow colours; it is an easy, aesthetically pleasing update. liTeMood® offers the opportunity to match line-fit LED lighting scenes or create dynamic scenes to complement the passenger experience story board. Again, this is a relatively easy update with a profound effect on the total look and feel of the cabin.
The year ahead of us is incredibly exciting, both for STG Aerospace and the industry as a whole. The opportunities will no doubt be countered by challenges as the year goes by, but we are eager to work with the wider industry to play our part in its progress.