As the world of wide-bodied cabin & seat design has reached a critical plateau, all eyes are turning to the new narrow-bodied long-haul market which will become an increasingly important part of point-to-point long-haul strategy in the months and years ahead.
While the ‘Jet Set Era’ offered transcontinental flights on narrow-body aircraft decades ago, it was a different time of recliner-style first class seats and the sharply-dressed elite. Nowadays passengers expect creature comforts such as flatbeds and all-aisle-access, placing constraints on a cabin environment that was never truly designed to facilitate such a need.
Already we’ve seen JetBlue bring innovative new seats to the skies, and there are plenty of new entrants waiting in the wings as well, including Unum One which is starting to get some attention – however – Teague and Nordam are also challenging the norm with an innovative more environmentally-friendly approach, not just addressing the seat issues, but the cabin as a whole.
Teague, one of the industry’s leading design and innovation companies, has today unveiled ‘Elevate’ – the world’s first single-aisle aircraft cabin that uses floating furniture’ to reimagine the in-flight passenger experience. Working in collaboration with Nordam, one of the world’s largest independently owned aerospace firms, the Seattle-based company has created a cabin that offers passengers more personal space, privacy, and comfort in a home-like interior – without compromising existing passenger numbers.
To date, innovation in the cabin interior has been limited due to furniture attachment points being in the seat-tracks only. ‘Elevate’ is the first cabin in history to implement sidewall attachment points that enable the creation of a lighter and more efficient suite environment. By utilising mounted fixtures in the sidewall that eliminate restrictive structures around the monitor, side-furniture, and ottoman, the ‘Elevate’ concept increases everything a passenger wants; bed size, living space and stowage capacity – providing a larger floorspace and promoting an expansive living space.
It might not sound like a huge impact at first, but this means an entirely clean slate now being offered to designers in single-aisle aircraft. Elevate showcases the possibility of creating a world-leading passenger experience while also eliminating substantial amounts of structural composite that would traditionally be used to floor-mount the monitor, ottoman, side-furniture, and privacy shrouds.
The pairing of fixed, full-height slatted screens with the reverse herringbone seat-layout allowed Teague to conceive a premium level of privacy and also enabled a fixed monitor location. By looking at the cabin in its entirety the design studio was able to take a different approach, integrating PSUs and overhead bins into the seat environment, creating a physical ‘cocoon’ for the passenger, and developing a sense of ownership over the entire space.
It’s true that passengers are now finding themselves on single-aisle aircraft for in excess of eight hours. That prospect could be daunting, however, Elevate utilises the more constrained cabin architecture to its maximum advantage, creating an immersive cabin experience extending the passengers’ sense of space. The use of wood, stone, and nature-inspired laminates in the integrated furniture and sidewalls create a sense of calm and familiarity for the passenger too.
“At a time when passenger wellbeing and sustainability are industry priorities, ‘Elevate’ heralds in a new generation of beautiful, simplified cabin products that will enable airlines to deliver exceptional experiences for their passengers with the economic efficiency that these smaller aircraft were designed to deliver.”Anthony Harcup, Senior Director of Airline Experience at Teague.
From an airline’s operational perspective, the additional fixing points allow for greater integrity and strength, further lightening the seats themselves bringing back the cost efficiencies that airlines expect. By reimagining these cabins from the ground up–literally–it’s possible to create cross-fleet consistency, help meet sustainability targets and reduce maintenance and engineering costs.
But it’s not just seating that will benefit from this new technology. The provisioning of elevated attachment points in the cabin provides a wealth of, operational and passenger-experience enhancing opportunities throughout the cabin classes, galleys, and lavatories alike. While Elevate showcases the potential of NBrace in the premium cabin, we have only scratched the surface of its potential applications.