For 11 years now, it has been the annual indicator of trends in aircraft cabins and passenger experience: the Crystal Cabin Award. After last year's tenth anniversary awards attracted so much attention for winners and finalists all over the world, the 2017 competition is more international and more hotly contested than ever before. 85 applicants from 21 countries have made it onto the shortlist this time round. This is not just a new record in terms of countries; it is also the third time in a row to see a new record for shortlist entries. Aircraft manufacturers, airlines, suppliers, engineering firms and universities are battling it out to take home this year's striking white trophies, traditionally awarded on the first evening of the Aircraft Interiors Expo (4 - 6 April, 2017) in Hamburg. Submissions range from complete cabin systems to innovative individual components, from an economy seat for short-haul flights to luxury cabins for long-haul private jets.
Two renowned US airlines - Delta and United - are on the shortlist for the Crystal Cabin Award this year with their new business class products. The Delta One Suite, being introduced by Delta Air Lines on the Airbus A350, will for the first time provide every business-class passenger with an individual cabin area, sealed off with screens. United Airlines, meanwhile, has recently launched the Polaris Business Class, offering a new cabin configuration with all-aisle access seats in a density neutral layout, not compromising space or comfort.
Trend: more flexibility in seat pitch
From the manufacturer's side, Canada's Bombardier is throwing its hat into the ring for the Crystal Cabin Award for the first time. Its two submissions include the cabin concept of the C-Series. This short and medium-haul airliner is a new development from the ground up and competes with Boeing's 737 and the Airbus A320 range. The first examples were delivered to launch customers Swiss Air Lines and Air Baltic in 2016, and the manufacturer claims to offer outstanding in-flight comfort to all passengers regardless of the seating arrangement. Airbus has also looked at the crucial question of seating and developed an innovative seating rail concept called "Smart Cabin Reconfiguration", allowing the crew to adjust the seat pitch in the cabin based on reservations for the flight. The advantage for the passenger is that when a flight is not fully booked, the last row of seats can be folded away and the remaining rows pushed back further, giving passengers more legroom.
Innovative: the world's first stone floor for an aircraft
If the thought of seating rails in the floor just rouses a bored grin as you sip on your champagne, you may be won over by the shortlist entry from F.LIST GmbH in Austria. Fit your private jet with the first ever heated stone flooring for an aircraft cabin and you are sure to be the talk of the town even at the most exclusive airports. Nothing can compete with such luxury - except perhaps the premium Mercedes-Benz cabin for private jets, developed by the German automobile manufacturer in cooperation with Lufthansa Technik. Meanwhile, US-based company Kestrel has gone one step further with a VIP concept for the Boeing 787, converting an entire long-haul aircraft for exclusive private use.
Sustainable: the first trolley with garbage sorting
Alongside these extravagant concepts, the shortlist for the 11th Crystal Cabin Awards also includes plenty of sustainable ideas for aviation, such as an innovative and particularly environmentally friendly aircraft lavatory from Zodiac Aerospace, and the Re-Trolley from Airbus, allowing the crew to sort and compress garbage while they pass through the cabin. Engineering firm Altran has also developed a futuristic cabin trolley: it takes the burden off the crew, passing through the cabin and serving passengers by itself. Diehl Aerospace's Wireless Seat System, meanwhile, takes a step towards more safety on board, informing the crew automatically if a passenger does not fasten his or her seatbelt on time.
Digital: an aircraft window that is also a touchscreen
There's no shortage in the 2017 shortlist for innovative concepts that make flying more attractive. There's the Vision Systems window pane, which is also a touchscreen, projecting information about the flight directly into the window. And then there are several innovative headrest concepts for long-haul flights, such as the successful Kickstarter project, FaceCradle, gently supporting the tired head from all sides. Traditionally, the University category is home to particularly creative ideas. With ten submissions from four countries this year, the category is more hotly contested than ever. Its reputation is already ensured with an idea coming from the University of Rio de Janeiro for 3D-printing of in-flight meals.
Categories: what the Crystal Cabin Award is about
The Crystal Cabin Award, initiated by the cluster Hamburg Aviation, is awarded in eight categories: "Cabin Concepts", "Cabin Systems", "Electronic Systems", "Greener Cabin, Health, Safety and Environment", "Material & Components", "Passenger Comfort Hardware", "University", and "Visionary Concepts". For each category, the international experts on the Judging Panel choose three shortlist entries as finalists. These concepts can then be presented to the industry's elite within the framework of the world's leading trade fair for aircraft cabins, the Aircraft Interiors Expo (Hamburg, 4 - 6 April). The winners of the Crystal Cabin Awards 2017 will be formally announced on the evening of 4 April at a gala dinner in the Hotel Atlantic Kempinski in Hamburg.
Judging Panel: high-ranking reinforcements for the international expert panel
A 29-person international jury will decide which of the shortlisted concepts make it into this year's final round and have the chance of winning a Crystal Cabin Award. This Judging Panel is made up of representatives of all parts of the industry, including airlines, aircraft manufacturers, suppliers, universities, consulting firms and the specialist press. The exclusive Crystal Cabin Award jury welcomes five new members for 2017:
- Peter Cooke, Design Manager Aircraft Cabins at British Airways
- Paul Estoppey, Senior Director, Head of Product Management Cabin Lufthansa Group Hub Airlines (Austrian, Lufthansa, SWISS)
- Zuzana Hrnkova, Vice President Marketing with the regional aircraft manufacturer ATR Aircraft
- Mary Kirby, founder and publisher of the internationally renowned industry blog, Runway Girl Network
- Ng Yung Han, Vice President Product Innovation at Singapore Airlines
Acclaimed industry award - acclaimed industry support
The Crystal Cabin Award stands for the idea of an independent platform for the industry to promote and honour innovation in aviation worldwide. The list of supporters of the Crystal Cabin Award reads like a Who's Who of the international community. The Crystal Cabin Award is supported by the following sponsors and media partners: Airbus, Aircraft Cabin Management, Aircraft Interiors Expo (Reed Exhibitions), Aircraft Interiors International Magazine, Aircraft Interiors Middle East, Altran, APEX, ATR, B/E Aerospace, Bishop GmbH Aeronautical Engineers, DIEHL Aerosystems Holding, FERCHAU AVIATION Division, Flightchic, Flightglobal, HAECO Cabin Solutions, Inflight Magazine, Jetliner Cabins, Lufthansa Technik AG, RECARO, Runway Girl Network und SEKISUI SPI.