Winning innovations in the 2021 Crystal Cabin Awards, from a coffee-shop-style cabin to bunk beds


The winning innovations in the awards dubbed the ‘Oscars’ of airline cabin design have been revealed.

A total of eight concepts were given gongs at the 2021 Crystal Cabin Awards in Hamburg, which recognises ‘excellence in aircraft interior innovation’.

And this year a coffee-shop-style cabin, onboard bunk beds and customisable economy seats were among the triumphant designs.

The winning innovations in the awards dubbed the ‘Oscars’ of airline cabin design have been revealed. The winner in the cabin concepts category was Alice, pictured, which is described as the ‘first purely electric commuter jet’ from Israeli company Eviation Aircraft

The Crystal Cabin Awards judges were impressed with Alice's 'innovative cabin concept with a fishbone seating layout' created by Almadesign of Portugal

The Crystal Cabin Awards judges were impressed with Alice’s ‘innovative cabin concept with a fishbone seating layout’ created by Almadesign of Portugal

The awards, now in its 14th year, were handed out in eight categories – cabin concepts; cabin systems; greener cabin, health, safety and environment; in-flight entertainment and connectivity; materials and hardware; passenger comfort hardware; the university award and visionary concepts.

The winner in the cabin concepts category was Alice, which is described as the ‘first purely electric commuter jet’ from Israeli company Eviation Aircraft. It will carry up to nine passengers over a distance of up to 621 miles (1,000 kilometres).

The judges were impressed with the plane’s ‘innovative cabin concept with a fishbone seating layout’ created by Almadesign of Portugal.

The top award in the visionary concepts category went to Airbus for its Airspace Cabin Vision 2030 concept, which offers flexible swivel seats, bunk beds, an exercise area and lounges for gaming or families.

According to Airbus, this concept will allow passengers to have ‘more choice and the flexibility to select a personalised flight experience based on their individual needs, whether they are travelling for business or leisure, alone or with family’.

The top award in the visionary concepts category went to Airbus for its Airspace Cabin Vision 2030 concept, pictured

The top award in the visionary concepts category went to Airbus for its Airspace Cabin Vision 2030 concept, pictured 

The Airbus Airspace Cabin Vision 2030 concept offers flexible swivel seats, bunk beds and lounges for gaming or families

The Airbus Airspace Cabin Vision 2030 concept offers flexible swivel seats, bunk beds and lounges for gaming or families

How an exercise area might look on an aircraft with an Airbus Airspace Cabin Vision 2030 concept

How an exercise area might look on an aircraft with an Airbus Airspace Cabin Vision 2030 concept

According to Airbus, this concept will allow passengers to have 'more choice and the flexibility to select a personalised flight experience based on their individual needs, whether they are travelling for business or leisure, alone or with family'

According to Airbus, this concept will allow passengers to have ‘more choice and the flexibility to select a personalised flight experience based on their individual needs, whether they are travelling for business or leisure, alone or with family’ 

The University of Cincinnati scooped the gong in the university category for its Coffee House Cabin concept, which would see long tables for meetings, productive work or coffee breaks added to aircraft.

It explained: ‘With four passengers seated at each table, the Coffee House Cabin allows passengers to have personal workspace during flight. For safety, during takeoff and landing, all seats rotate towards the front of the aircraft, and table wings fold down and are secured.’

Meanwhile, when it came to the passenger comfort hardware category, the Modulair S economy seat concept from Safran Seats came out on top.

The University of Cincinnati scooped the gong in the university category for its Coffee House Cabin concept, pictured, which would see long tables for meetings, productive work or coffee breaks added to aircraft

The University of Cincinnati scooped the gong in the university category for its Coffee House Cabin concept, pictured, which would see long tables for meetings, productive work or coffee breaks added to aircraft

'With four passengers seated at each table, the Coffee House Cabin allows passengers to have personal workspace during flight,' explained the University of Cincinnati

‘With four passengers seated at each table, the Coffee House Cabin allows passengers to have personal workspace during flight,’ explained the University of Cincinnati 

Developed in cooperation with the French university ENSCI, the seat can ‘be extended with various features, bringing creature comforts such as neck support or a tablet holder to economy class passengers’.

And that wasn’t Safran’s only award for 2021 as it was also triumphant in the cabin systems and in-flight entertainment and connectivity categories.

In the cabin systems category, Safran was honoured for its SOPHY concept – a tiny module that is ‘integrated in a catering trolley and provides the operator with information’ such as when it needs reloading and when it needs cleaning.

Meanwhile, in the in-flight entertainment and connectivity category, it was triumphant with its Rave Bluetooth innovation that ‘allows each passenger or seat of an aircraft to connect to Bluetooth audio without impacting the connection for other seats’.

When it came to the passenger comfort hardware category, the Modulair S economy seat concept from Safran Seats, pictured, came out on top

When it came to the passenger comfort hardware category, the Modulair S economy seat concept from Safran Seats, pictured, came out on top

The Modulair S seat, pictured, can 'be extended with various features, bringing creature comforts such as neck support or a tablet holder to economy class passengers'

The Modulair S seat, pictured, can ‘be extended with various features, bringing creature comforts such as neck support or a tablet holder to economy class passengers’

The judges explained: ‘The fact that passengers are increasingly using wireless headphones to enjoy onboard entertainment is a challenge for many airlines because conventional Bluetooth connections fail when the demand in the cabin reaches a certain level.

‘Rave Bluetooth helps out here, promising uninterrupted transmission throughout the aircraft.’

Canadian firm e2ip Technologies took gold in the materials and components category.

Together with the National Research Council of Canada, it came up with the concept of panel based on In-Mold Electronics (IME), which has ‘surface-printed electrical circuitry that saves on complex, heavy cabin electronics’.

And finally, the greener cabin, health, safety and environment award went to Diehl Aviation for its Greywater Reuse Unit.

The unit makes it possible to reuse water from the hand basin to flush the lavatory, rather than tipping precious drinking water down the drain.

A graphic showing how the 'Greywater Reuse Unit' from Diehl Aviation works. Instead of using precious drinking water, it uses water from handwashing in the basin to flush the toilet

A graphic showing how the ‘Greywater Reuse Unit’ from Diehl Aviation works. Instead of using precious drinking water, it uses water from handwashing in the basin to flush the toilet

As a result, according to Diehl Aviation, ‘the aircraft has to carry fewer water reserves, making it significantly lighter. For a Boeing 787, this means savings of up to 550 tonnes of CO2 per year’.

The Crystal Cabin Awards said: ‘With a broad spectrum of innovation and engagement with current challenges, the winners of the 14th Crystal Cabin Awards make it clear that the aviation industry is not standing still despite the current crisis.’  

The winners of another two awards – the judges’ choice award and the clean and safe air travel award – are yet to be announced.

They will be presented at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg at the end of August.



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