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Crystal Cabin Award: This year’s trends in the sky

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Crystal Cabin Award, the aircraft cabin “Oscars”, celebrating 10th anniversary and reporting record submissions: 95 entries from 18 countries

The world's most famous prize for aircraft cabins and on-board products, the Crystal Cabin Award, can boast of a new record number of entries for its tenth anniversary. 78 ideas and innovations for aircraft cabins have made it onto the shortlist for the 2016 "Oscars" of the international cabin industry. This reinforces a fundamental trend: around the world, efficient cabin usage and appealing passenger experience are becoming ever more important features of air travel for both airlines and passengers. Thematically, the focus this year is on the integration of passengers' own electronic devices with in-flight entertainment systems along with innovative lighting concepts.  In 2016, the Crystal Cabin Award, initiated by the cluster Hamburg Aviation, will be awarded in eight categories for the first time. Winners will be announced at a gala dinner on 5 April in Hamburg within the framework of the Aircraft Interiors Expo. Speakers at the dinner will include Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline, and Brigitte Zypries, Germany's Federal Parliamentary State Secretary for Aerospace.

Surfing, streaming, texting: more and more passengers expect the same communications possibilities in flight that they have on the ground. It's no surprise, really, because almost every passenger brings a smartphone or tablet on board these days. Manufacturers and airlines are responding, on the one hand, with a massive expansion of connectivity technology. In the future, US company Gogo, for example, will be fitting its 2Ku system to aircraft, equipping them with a dual antenna that allows every passenger to enjoy uninterrupted broadband connectivity for the entire flight. Journalists on a test flight already streamed their experience above the clouds live via smartphone.


On the other hand, there is also connectivity within the cabin. Whether it's the integration of content from passengers' own equipment in the in-flight entertainment system, the use of passengers' own iPads as monitors in the backrest on short-haul flights, or the possibility of charging a smartphone simply by placing it on the armrest - many manufacturers already have solutions on offer. Conventional in-flight entertainment systems are moving forward, too, as can be seen with "Digital Sky" from Thales, where the screen covers almost the entire backrest of the seat in front. The Skylights company is pursuing a different path, offering the in-flight program via 3D data glasses for distraction-free cinematic pleasure.

"Feel good atmosphere" is gaining importance

Alongside the growth in entertainment and connectivity, the "feel good atmosphere" is also becoming more and more important on board. Modern LED technology is making it possible to illuminate the cabin independently of flight phase and time of day, so that, for example, a sunrise can be simulated on long flights to minimise jet lag. German cabin fitting specialist Diehl Aerosystems is going one step further with its "Dandelion" concept, allowing coloured patterns and photographic images - passing clouds, for example - to be projected onto the cabin ceiling and overhead lockers.

Physically tangible innovations are not hard to find in the Crystal Cabin Award shortlist, either. There's the first airborne timber floor, developed by LIST from Austria, for example, and the first bionic-based 3D-printed cabin partitioning wall from Autodesk and Airbus, stable and at the same time extremely lightweight. One especially ingenious idea comes from the young company Soarigami: an economy-class armrest that can be folded out into separate sections, consigning the eternal battle with the neighbouring passenger for the last two centimeters of elbow-room to the history books.

Visionary concepts for the cabin of the future

Once again, the shortlist also includes bold visions for the cabin of the future. The spectrum ranges from an innovative way of dividing the cabin into seating and sleeping areas, as presented in the Zodiac Lifestyle Cabin, to an "Airline of the Future" concept developed by the TEAGUE design studio from America. The team's "Poppi" case study extends the airline business model with new elements. Companies could sponsor the unpopular middle seat, for example, using it to offer passengers free products and additional services. "Poppi" may still be a creative and remote idea, but the participation of numerous reputable airlines such as Swiss, Turkish, and Virgin Australia in the Crystal Cabin Award 2016 underlines the fact that this is now much more than just a small event for a small community of specialists.

On the occasion of its tenth anniversary, the Crystal Cabin Award has been expanded to eight categories for 2016. From now on, the distinctive trophies will be awarded in the fields of "Cabin Concepts", "Cabin Systems", "Electronic Systems", "Greener Cabin, Health, Safety and Environment", "Material & Components", "Passenger Comfort Hardware", "University", and "Visionary Concepts". Entrants whose submissions are amongst the three finalists for each category, chosen by the 27 expert members of the international judging panel, will have the opportunity to present their concepts at the world's largest cabin industry trade fair, the Aircraft Interiors Expo, to be held in Hamburg (5 - 7 April).

Tim Clark and Brigitte Zypries to speak at the prize ceremony

The winners of the Crystal Cabin Awards 2016 will be formally announced on the evening of 5 April at a grand tenth anniversary gala in the Hotel Atlantic Kempinski in Hamburg. Speakers at the dinner will include Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline, and Brigitte Zypries, Germany's Federal Parliamentary State Secretary for Aerospace. 

The Crystal Cabin Award stands for the idea of an independent platform for the industry to promote and honour innovation in aviation worldwide, and is supported by the following sponsors and media partners: Airbus, Aircraft Cabin Management, Aircraft Interiors Expo (Reed Exhibitions), Aircraft Interiors International Magazine, APEX, B/E Aerospace, Bishop GmbH Aeronautical Engineers, DIEHL Aerosystems Holding, Emirates Airline, FERCHAU AVIATION Division, Flightchic, HAECO Cabin Solutions, Inflight Magazine, Jetliner Cabins, Lufthansa Technik AG, Runway Girl Network and SEKISUI SPI.

You too can become a supporter of the Crystal Cabin Award. Information on sponsorship opportunities and packages is available from Carmen Krause (carmen.krause(at)

A detailed shortlist with English press material, press contacts for the individual entrants, and photographic material, is available upon request: