The Crystal Cabin Award trophies for 2021 go to Airbus, Diehl Aviation, e2ip, Eviation with Almadesign, the University of Cincinnati — and then three at once to Safran.

Hamburg, 30 March 2021: The 14th Crystal Cabin Awards were presented in Hamburg today. Airbus, Diehl Aviation, e2ip, Eviation with Almadesign, and the University of Cincinnati were all winners of the globally respected prize for cabin innovations and on-board products were, with Safran taking out three prizes at once. Normally, the leading prize for the international aircraft cabin industry brings the Who’s Who of the industry together for a gala event during the Aircraft Interiors Expo trade fair in Hamburg. The ceremony for the eight winners of the 2021 trophies, however, was digital, streamed live around the world.

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. For the first time, the presentation of the coveted white trophies took place digitally across the world’s many timezones. The finalists of the eight categories learned of their victories on TV and were then brought into the studio directly by livestream. High-ranking industry representatives honoured the 24 finalists and their concepts in their addresses as they presented the prizes. In a digital keynote panel, Karen Brock Amoah, Vice President of Strategic Planning and Business Development at SIMONA, Andrew Litavis, Director Aircraft Interiors and Onboard Technology at American airline jetBlue, and RECARO CEO Mark Hiller looked at aircraft cabin trends during and after the first year of the pandemic.

The future of the cabin was then on display in the “Cabin Concepts” category. Alice, the first purely electric commuter jet, from Israeli company Eviation Aircraft, made its debut at the Paris Airshow in 2019. It will carry nine passengers over a distance of up to 1000 kilometres. The plane’s innovative cabin concept with a fishbone seating layout, created by Almadesign of Portugal, won a Crystal Cabin Award trophy, presented by Polly Magraw, Event Director at Reed Exhibitions, organizer of the Aircraft Interiors Expo.

Another foretaste of flight in the world of tomorrow is provided by the winner in the “Visionary Concepts” category. Airbus presented its Airspace Cabin Vision 2030, an extension of the “Airspace” concept, digitally tailoring the cabin to passenger needs and expanding the on-board experience with flexible seating and lounge configurations, for example a gaming or family compartment. The trophy was presented by jury member Paul Sweeney from Sydney, Program Manager Aircraft Design and Projects with Qantas Airways.

The “Material and Components” category approaches the demands of our time from very different angles. Together with the National Research Council of Canada, the Canadian victor, e₂ip technologies presented a panel based on In-Mold Electronics (IME), surface-printed electrical circuitry that saves on complex, heavy cabin electronics. The IME control element can be seamlessly integrated in its environment, taking on a range of functions such as the positioning of the aircraft seat. Furthermore, the system is “retrofittable”, making it suitable for a wide range of existing aircraft. This resource-friendly aspect won over the jury. The trophy was presented by Senator Michael Westhagemann, Hamburg’s Minister for Economic Affairs & Innovation, who talked about the growing importance of aviation innovations in view of the current situation.

Proof that innovation is often a matter of detail but can transform air travel was provided by the finalists in the “Greener Cabin, Health, Safety and Environment”. Frederic Dupont, Vice President Technical Sales and Customer Service at platinum sponsor Etihad, announced the deserving winner, Diehl Aviation. The company’s Greywater Reuse Unit makes it possible to re-use water from the handbasin to flush the lavatory, rather than tipping precious drinking water down the drain. As a result, the aircraft has to carry less water reserves, making it significantly lighter. For a Boeing 787, this means savings of up to 550 tonnes of CO2 per year.

The industry is very hopeful that we will soon be able to travel freely again. And the award-winning Modulair S economy seat concept from Safran Seats is a boost to the sense of anticipation in the “Passenger Comfort Hardware” category. 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. Jury member and Vice President Product Innovation at Singapore Airlines, Yunghan Ng, joined the ceremony by livestream from a Singapore Airlines cabin model to present the trophy.

Just as passengers are becoming more and more digitally connected, so are cabin elements. French company Safran Cabin garnered its second prize for the evening in the “Cabin Systems” category with SOPHY™. This tiny module is integrated in the catering trolley and provides the operator with information on the entire journey of the equipment, from maintenance and cleaning needs to load. Colette Doyle, editor at the Crystal Cabin Award’s media partner, Aircraft Cabin Management, joined the ceremony from London to present the award.

The fact that passengers are increasingly using wireless headphones to enjoy on-board 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. This really excited jury member Corinne Streichert, Senior Manager for In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity at United Airlines, who presented the trophy in the “In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity” — once again to Safran, this time to the Passenger Solutions division.

As every year, all finalists were required to present their entries to the international Crystal Cabin Award jury in a final round, but for the first time this was conducted virtually. For entrants in the “University” category this undoubtedly lent an “exam feeling” to the process. In the end, it was the University of Cincinnati that won the day, having already made it to the final in 2019. The coveted trophy was secured by the Coffee House Cabin, a long table for meetings, productive work and coffee breaks. Winner Alejandro Lozano Robledo developed the concept together with The Boeing Company and The Live Well Collaborative. Melissa Raudebaugh, General Manager Aircraft Experience at Delta Air Lines and chair of the jury, presented the virtual trophy from her company’s head office in Atlanta.

“Judges’ Choice Award” and “Clean & Safe Air Travel”: More trophies to follow

In 2021, in view of the global Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on global air travel, there will be two special categories for the Crystal Cabin Award: “Clean & Safe Air Travel” and the “Judges’ Choice Award”. They are scheduled for presentation at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg on 31 August.

The complete award ceremony is still available at the following link: youtu.be/MMHUKJ8MT14