Airbus is ushering in a new era for aircraft cabin design with a new blended-reality approach to research and development.
In an industry first, the so-called ‘Airbus immersive remote collaboration’ mode will employ a virtual 3D environment with holograms to allow users to ‘experience’ cabin layouts, equipment choices, materials and colours.
Collaborators will be able to communicate easily and in real time.Airbus
Catherine Jestin, Executive Vice President Digital and Information Management at Airbus, said: “With this new solution, Airbus is opening a new era where mixed reality will help shape the future of aircraft cabin definition. We are leveraging the power of data and most advanced technologies to create engaging, interactive and realistic virtual experiences for our customers, accessible at any time, from anywhere in the world. This shows how we foster digital innovation at Airbus for all our products and services, always keeping our customers at heart.”
The announcement follows hot on the heels of another recent reveal: the ‘Airspace Cabin Vision 2035+’ – a new concept cabin that provides an insight into what aircraft interiors might look like from the year 2035 and beyond, though customers might begin to notice some changes to existing cabin designs before the end of this year.
Simple Flying reported recently that the 2035+ concept was developed with input from ten airlines and eight technology firms, including Delta Air Lines, Lufthansa and BMW, in addition to Airbus’s in-depth passenger surveys. Now, with the advent of mixed reality technology, designers will be able to work even more closely and immersively with their industry partners and focus groups.
With between 10-20% of an aircraft’s ecological footprint coming from the cabin, cabin design is a crucial part of the air industry’s race to decarbonize.
Ingo Wuggetzer, head of Cabin Marketing, speaking at a virtual conference in May, laid out the three interdependent pillars defining the manufacturer’s design philosophy: supply chain transparency; decarbonization; and circularity.
Through these he said the company is looking to implement “an end-to-end lifecycle assessment, how to design products, how to retrofit products, or how to customize.”
Wuggetzer cited the development of a sidewall panel made 100% from A350 waste carbon production (and 18kg lighter) as an example of the three pillars in practice. Nature has also been a key inspiration for ‘bionic’ designs, such as riffing off the structure of a mushroom to help make cabins up to 40% lighter. The lighter the cabin, the fewer the emissions.
More solutions like these seem to be in the offing with immersive remote collaboration already planned for industrialisation on the A320 family by 2025 and mixed reality industrial applications for other commercial aircraft and on helicopter programmes to follow.