Air New Zealand’s Skynest, the next reimagined economy class seat that promises bunks in the skies, has already attracted plenty of buzz and excitement among sleep-hungry long-haul passengers. Now, the concept has earned the industry’s seal of approval via the prestigious Crystal Cabin Award, presented at the 2022 Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg, Germany.
Skynest won the cabin concepts award at this year’s ceremony, which celebrates innovation in aircraft cabin interiors. Lukas Kaestner, chairman of the Crystal Cabin Award Association, said Air New Zealand’s win was notable because this category often rewards ideas that are exciting but far from being realized.
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The Skynest is not just a futuristic, perhaps one-day concept, it is a product produced by an airline that is expected to take to the skies in 2024.
“Bunk solution for economy class – that’s something you regularly see as a concept,” Kaestner said. “But rarely do we see this level of innovation actually become a real product that is flying.”
The Crystal Cabin Awards announced its long list earlier this year, before narrowing the categories down to a shortlist. Finalists presented their ideas at AIX earlier this week – with the expert judging team picking their favorites.
Other winners include Collins Aerospace’s InteliSence concept in the Passenger Comfort category. InteliSence uses artificial intelligence and data collected from onboard cameras and sensors to track passengers’ travel experiences. Collins said in a statement that the goal is to help “airlines optimize energy consumption, onboard provisions and crew workloads,” as well as offering passengers a more personalized inflight experience.
In the university category, a team of students from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands won for their Lightweight Aircraft Seating concept – a lightweight seat cushion designed to use a minimum of material, ensuring passenger comfort.
Meanwhile, in the Sustainable Cabin category, Lantal Textiles’ Deep Dyed Carpet was awarded for its ability to potentially reduce the plane’s CO2 emissions through a lighter, more environmentally friendly cabin carpet.
Kaestner said it’s encouraging to see more sustainable innovations in aviation and suggests the industry is starting to consider its environmental impact – while acknowledging there’s still a long way to go.
“We haven’t been that good as an industry yet,” he said.
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