Airbus debuts futuristic cabin with self-flushing toilets and ambient lighting

Airbus' Airpspace was designed with a premium passenger experience in mind

Airbus' Airpspace was designed with a premium passenger experience in mind  (Airbus)

At a meeting in London last week, European aircraft manufacturer Airbus introduced its next-generation aircraft cabin, dubbed “Airspace.”

Airbus says the changes were crowdsourced, coming as a result of feedback from millions of passengers over recent years. The innovative design seeks to bring together an enhanced experience for passengers and optimum performance for airlines based on four dimensions: comfort, ambience, service and design.

Like some other cabin designs of late, lighting throughout the Airspace cabin is carefully choreographed to affect the passenger experience as a whole. No longer are the lights just turned on or off during the flight, but they can be displayed in millions of colors, thanks for LED technology.

The color of light in the cabin can actually be manipulated to help passengers feel more relaxed or tired with shades of blue, and even hungry with hues of orange and red, which are widely used in food packaging design. Custom lighting schemes can also allow airlines to enhance their own branding, with colors matching the airlines’ own logos and paint, particularly during loading and unloading.

And here’s some great news for those who have been feeling squished in economy: Airbus is keeping its generous 18 inch-wide seats! Some Boeing seats are as narrow as 17 inches (as seen on the 787), which may not seem like a lot, but if you’re stuck in one on a long-haul flight, it makes a huge difference.

The curvature of the cabin walls around the windows has also been enhanced, adding to the perception of width throughout the cabin.

You’ll also find more room at your feet, because Airbus is getting rid of those bulky boxes that house the in-flight entertainment equipment. This is the first big cabin change in awhile that has been primarily focused on the multitudes who travel in Economy, instead of only making things better for the guys with the deep pockets flying up front.

The spirit of these changes comes from Airbus’ design philosophy: “Passenger at heart, airline in mind,” meaning the passengers’ comfort comes first. The cabin will also feature increased space in overhead bins, allowing for more carry-on baggage, and letting passengers avoid those pesky checked baggage fees — at least on most airlines.

Even the bathroom experience is being enhanced, in the form of more space, antibacterial surfaces and self-flushing toilets.

Even the jet itself conveys the design philosophy, boasting the quietest cabins in the sky. I don’t know how they make it happen but it’s remarkable how muted the newest planes are.

Airbus’ forthcoming A330neo will be the first aircraft with Airspace installed. Some design elements will also be found on the A350-XWB. If all goes as planned, Delta will begin receiving them in Q4 of 2017.

The A330neo is an updated version of the A330, with a list price of $252.3 to $287.7 million. With a range of up to 7,500 nautical miles, it will seat 257-440 people, depending on how the each airline chooses to configure their seating. The biggest change to the A330neo is its new Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines, which make the plane 14 percent more fuel efficient than its predecessor.

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