The 2016 edition of Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) broke new records in terms of attendance, and set the industry agenda for the year ahead with more exhibitors than ever showcasing and launching new products.
16,000 industry executives are estimated to have attended Passenger Experience Week, from 5th – 7th April, whilst the number of VIP airline attendees rose by 14% – many of whom were senior executives from more than 180 airlines located in 26 markets across the globe.
There were more than 530 exhibitors at this year’s AIX –– with 145 companies exhibiting for the first time.
AIX was the platform for many new orders and partnerships. Airbus unveiled TAP Portugal as the first airline to fly its Airbus A330neo. The Portuguese carrier will also be the first to take its new “Airspace” cabin which was on display at AIX.
Mirus Aircraft Seating, exhibiting for the first time at the show, announced their first ever order from Air Asia to retrofit 386 of its in-service and on-order Airbus A320s and A320neos with its light-weight Hawk economy class seat. This will see the seating manufacturer supply over 70,000 seats to the airline, whilst Recaroannounced that they will be partnering with Singapore Airlines to supply 14,000 CL3710 economy class seats on board the airline’s A380s, and its on-order A350s and Boeing 787s next year.
AIX played host to a high number of new and innovative products and services on display, giving valuable insights into the future of the passenger experience, whilst demonstrating cost effective solutions for airlines. Zotefoams showed how by using their foam rather than solid plastic parts for installations, airlines can achieve 50% weight reductions.
Also revealing innovative materials to transform the cabin was JCB Aero, which has developed their first carbon composite material to be approved for use in commercial and transport cabins. 3D printing is also making its way into the sky, with Sabic showing how their Ultrem 9085 resin materials can produce an economy seat all through 3D printing.
In AIX’s IFEC Zone, which grew by almost a third in 2016 many leading industry companies showcased their newest technologies designed to keep passengers entertained and connected. Lumexis were giving visitors a look at their latest generation of its fibre optics-based in-flight entertainment system. The supplier’s FTTS (fibre-to-the-screen) Gem-4 includes a large seatback touchscreen and features a Flightpath 3D interactive moving map.
Panasonic Avionics displayed their Waterfront concept seat, which includes 4K viewing amongst a host of other features such as inductive charging and temperature and positon control of your seat all via the passenger’s mobile phone. The unique partnership with B/E Aerospace, Teague and Formation Design Group to develop this seat has resulted in a business class seat that elevates the flying experience with sophisticated technology.
ViaSat were speaking about their new ViaSat-3 satellite which offers the capacity to meet growing customer demand to stream content of their own choosing to their own personal devices, which they believe will eventually outgrow embedded IFE solutions.
The week also brought us a number of new gadgets and technology innovations for the cabin which will help to transform the passenger experience. Skylights, the French IFE technology specialist, displayed their 3D “cinematic” glasses, bringing the movie experience from the ground up to 30,000 ft. Skycast showcased the TabCaddyClip – a tablet computer holder that fixes to seatback tray tables, whilst the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) unveiled 3D simulation goggles as a way of assisting anxious flyers.
Polly Magraw, Event Manager of Aircraft Interiors Expo, said: “This has been another record year for Aircraft Interiors Expo with increasing numbers of companies from across the globe recognising that this is the event to launch and showcase new innovations in the passenger experience.
“The marked increase in the number of VIP Airline visitors clearly demonstrates the airline sector’s appetite for the new products that AIX showcases.”
AIX was preceded by the Passenger Experience Conference, which saw more than50 speakers from across the passenger experience industry sharing insights with some 400 delegates from airlines, suppliers, designers and the media.
Another show event celebrating innovation and bringing key industry players together was the 10th annual Crystal Cabin Awards, hosted by Hamburg Aviation and sponsored by AIX which took place on the evening of the opening day of AIX. Eight innovators were honoured for bringing exciting insight into the future of aviation.Rebel.Aero’s picked up first prize in the Passenger Comfort Hardware category for their economy class booster seat, whilst Etihad Airways won the Cabin Concepts prize for its project with Acumen Design for their original use of seating space in the cabin with 787 First Suites. B/E Aerospace also took home a top prize, this time for its Viu Flex Lighting System, which illuminates almost every space in the cabin. Other prize winners included Lufthansa Systems, for its Board Connect Portable, The Boeing Company for its “Clean Cabin- Fresh Lavatory”, Sekisui SPI for its ”Infused Imaging”, Delft University of Technology’s hammock-shaped headrest, andZodiac Aerospace’s Lifestyle Cabin.
Aircraft Interiors Expo next takes place 4-6 April 2017, Hamburg, Germany.
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