After three years of virtual and hybrid events, Aircraft Interiors Expo is back! The aviation industry’s premier cabin event returns to its home in Hamburg. Over 600 companies including world-leading brands such as Airbus and Lufthansa Technik showcase their latest innovations for aircraft passengers, from seating and lighting to on-board catering, from digital entertainment and connectivity to sustainable cabin products that reduce the industry’s environmental footprint. And with AIX returns the Crystal Cabin Awards, aviation’s most prestigious prize honoring excellence in aircraft interiors. The lucky winners will be announced at an exclusive ceremony on 14 June.
Hamburg’s Minister for Economic Affairs and Innovation Michael Westhagemann tours the Aircraft Interiors Expo
Michael Westhagemann, Hamburg’s Senator for Economic Affairs and Innovation, is scheduled to tour AIX on 15 June, visiting leading companies and hidden champions from the Hamburg metro region. Among the exciting technologies presented by Airbus at its stand (5A20) are cabin concepts for its A350 and A320, including its Airspace cabin concepts for Finnair as well as its upcoming long-haul single-aisle A321XLR. This aircraft will be assembled in Hamburg and looks set to become a game-changer bringing long-range routes up to 8,700 km to the single-aisle market. Another focus of Airbus’ AIX stand in 2022 is connectivity and networking in the cabin.
The Aircraft Interiors Expo is also a key event for global leaders in maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) such as Lufthansa Technik (Hall B6, 6B80). Headquartered in Hamburg, the company provides maintenance support for 20 percent of the world’s airliners. Among its many new products presented at AIX are its HeatNOW heating system, CabinSHINE repair solution as well as new lighting and floor marker systems. Another intriguing product designed to lower emissions is AeroSHARK, a durable bionic film that mimics shark skin and optimizes airflow, enabling significant fuel savings and emissions reductions.
Another major exhibitor with a substantial footprint in Hamburg is Diehl Aviation, a supplier of global renown. At its stand in Hall B7 (7D20), Diehl will showcase its many innovations to reduce aircraft weight, such as new thermoplastic air ducts and partitions. Diehl Aviation is also showing its Grey Water Re-use system – a 2021 Crystal Cabin Award winner – for the first time at AIX; the system saves water, weight and emissions. Diehl Aviation is also bringing the latest version of its CANSAS platform to AIX that integrates all cabin functions in one easy-to-use system.
Another Hamburg-based manufacturer, AERQ, presents new approaches to digitizing the cabin. The joint venture between LG Electronics and Lufthansa Technik (Booth 4B11, Hall 4) presenting a new type of in-flight digital system called AERENA. AERENA is an open IT platform that enables airlines to offer a more personalized experience to their customers. AERQ is also a leader in OLED technology; the company has developed displays that can be installed as ceiling or wall panels, giving airlines new opportunities for creative designs in the cabin.
Aviation in Hamburg: Innovating toward the future of flight
Hamburg is one of the world’s leading innovation centers for aviation, both inside and outside the cabin. During the pandemic, Hamburg Aviation and the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Innovation collaborated with enterprises and institutions from across the region to provide much-needed stimulus for the aviation sector in the region while supporting lighthouse sustainability projects. These included the Hydrogen Aviation Lab, a first-of-its-kind real-world laboratory researching ground-based refuelling with liquid hydrogen using a retired A320 airframe. Meanwhile, the Hamburg aviation community is looking forward to the maiden flight of the upcoming Airbus A321XLR, which will be produced at Airbus’s Finkenwerder production facility.
With support from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Innovation, Hamburg Aviation helped found the Sustainable Aero Lab, a global start-up accelerator for new ideas helping to introduce cutting-edge, environmentally friendly solutions to aviation. Sustainable Aero Lab co-founder Lukas Kaestner will moderate a panel discussion at CabinSpace Live on Tuesday, June 14 at 12:45-13:45 with the exciting title: “Making Sustainable Aviation Reality: How New Technology, New Players and New Mindsets Bring Us to Net-Zero.”
Michael Westhagemann, Hamburg’s Senator for Economic Affairs and Innovation, comments: “We want to help push forward the recovery of the aviation industry after the pandemic. On the path towards long-term economic success, we will be supporting the industry throughout the process of becoming climate-neutral. To realise this goal, it’s essential that all actors across business, research and public policy work together. In Hamburg, we are making the necessary strategic decisions, for example by investing in the infrastructure, training and networks necessary to support green hydrogen and other sustainable technologies. We are bolstering our advanced research capabilities by further expanding the Centre for Applied Aeronautical Research. Here in Hamburg we will also augment our status as a world-leading solution provider for aircraft cabins. I look forward to discussing with representatives from Hamburg’s aviation community about the challenges ahead for the industry.”
With the Covid-19 pandemic ebbing away, air travel is surging back. Travel bookings in 2022 are nearly at pre-pandemic levels, while airlines and airframers alike are reporting strong demand. Meanwhile, the aviation industry’s commitment to zero-emission flight by 2050 has placed a huge impetus on reducing emissions. While propulsion engineers are busy designing powertrains fueled by green hydrogen and the industry seeks to ramp up supply of low-emission sustainable aviation fuels, architects of aircraft interiors are forging ahead with emissions reduction by saving weight, in turn saving fuel. Among the many innovations towards sustainability coming to AIX this year: Lufthansa Technik’s AeroFLAX, a recyclable flax-based layer for the interior of cabin walls. Or Caeli Nova’s intriguing Cordillera emergency oxygen system, which allows airlines to use routes direct over high mountain ranges, potentially saving over 1m tons of CO₂ annually.
Safety has always been of the highest priority in aircraft design. Now Safran Cabin has engineered a new Fire Resistant Cargo Container, which can contain even fires involving lithium batteries. In the wake of the pandemic, passenger health remains a major concern for many travelers, leading to innovations such as Airshield, a system by Pexco Aerospace and Teaguethat uses air currents between passengers to protect travelers from airborne viruses.
Improved accommodation for wheelchair users
Another noteworthy trend at AIX 2022 is the appearance of new systems to improve the travel experience of wheelchair users. A consortium of Flying Disabled, PriestmanGoode, SWS Certification and Sunrise Medical has developed Air 4 All. This new product allows travelers to position their wheelchair in a seat space by folding the seat up into the backrest. Air 4 All provides a safe and easy way for wheelchair users to fly without being forced to move into a standard cabin seat. Carlos Gatti, a student at Wichita State University, submitted a novel solution for the Crystal Cabin Award in the University category. The Fly Your Wheels Suite replaces the front left storage module on aircraft such as the Boeing 737-800 with a multi-purpose storage bay that can serve as a secure space for a wheelchair user during flight. Instead of removing existing seats, airlines could add a paying passenger: the wheelchair user.
Crystal Cabin Award crowns the best concepts of the year
A highlight of the industry calendar is the Crystal Cabin Awards, the most prestigious prize in aviation. The winners across eight categories are selected by a jury of 27 industry professionals. This year’s ceremony will be held at Altonaer Kaispeicher, a relaxing waterside venue overlooking the Elbe River. An initiative of Hamburg Aviation, the Crystal Cabin Award honors ingenuity among designers and engineers developing solutions for major aviation players. One category sets itself apart; the “University” category, open only to students and educational establishments, produces some of the awards most inspiring and surprising designs that show breathtakingly original thinking. The winners will present their designs on 15 June at 2.30pm at the CabinSpace LIVE Auditorium in Hall B4 (Lower). AIX visitors can see all 24 finalists at the Crystal Cabin Award Finalists Gallery at Stand 6B90.
The Hamburg Lounge: A Space For Business
The first point of contact for all Hamburg businesses and organizations this year is the Hamburg Lounge in Hall B6, 6B90. Here, Hamburg Aviation presents an inviting space for AIX visitors in cooperation with the ZAL Center of Applied Aeronautical Research and the Hanse-Aerospace supplier association.
Aircraft Interiors Expo: Bigger and better than ever
The Aircraft Interiors Expo, organised by Reed Exhibitions, is part of a larger event, the Passenger Experience Week. This begins on Monday 13 June with the Passenger Experience Conference (PEC) and continues with “AIX” and the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE). All these events are taking place at the Hamburg Messe trade fair venue.