A number of innovative new onboard services and aircraft interiors products are trying to break into the market. Stephanie Gehman looks at how CartMAX, cabinBart, and TSkin could make waves in-flight.
CartMAX from Eyelevel can best be described as a lightweight, recycled cardboard insert that lines a standard cart drawer in the trolleys used by flight crews for the drinks service. The green-minded, low-cost product is so unobtrusive that Matt Delamere, Eyelevel managing director, says it has no impact on aircraft fuel consumption.
The product is intended to increase ancillary revenue for airlines. Three display panels are built into CartMAX; these are designed to fold out for full display to airline passengers as the trolley is wheeled up and down the aisle. “It is an extension of the surface area inside the cabin which can be used to promote a meal deal, loyalty card, inflight gifts or a new route. It can even be used to entice an advertiser to sponsor an airline’s entire fleet. It’s an exciting new means of maximising revenue,” says Delamere.
The product is currently being tested by a major UK airline as well as several other undisclosed European carriers. Positive feedback from both passengers and flight crew has led CartMAX’s Delamere to expect that Eyelevel will be in a position to formally announce its launch customer very soon.
While CartMAX focuses on exploiting space used by the flight crew, cabinBART, the brainchild of industrial designer Franz Reel, is targeted for use by the airline passenger.
The cabinBART system is a trash bag designed for all stages of flight and uses by travellers – airsickness, reusable items and trash. Its slim structure allows for convenient storage in the seatback pockets and its versatility fills a need that regular airsickness bags cannot.
So how does the one-of-a-kind cabinBART concept work? Says Reel: “Its design is all about user centred design, process integration and perfect use of the little space available. It has a special cardboard part integrated on its back, which allows passengers to attach it to the front seat in several positions, always perfectly fitting for the current activity without restricting the passenger‘s movements or activities. During the meals for example, it uses the free space between the tray table and the front seat.
“This position is easily accessible and ensures a comfortable eating experience. If the passenger wants to store the tray table, he can just push cabinBART down into the magazine pocket. The passenger has still both hands free and can store the table while holding something additionally like the tray. During the rest of the journey, the user can attach cabinBART to the stored tray table, the perfect position for most activities, as it does not restrict the legroom and is easily accessible.”
Because the product is still in the development, it has only been tested to perfect the design elements, says Reel. He is working to secure a production partner and certification for the product at this time.
Meanwhile, a product called TSkin from TTF Aerospace has already received accolades, winning a Crystal Cabin Award in the ‘material and components’ category this year in Hamburg. Currently in production with patents in the United States and several foreign countries, the TSkin material is a peel and stick sheet that offers a completely different way to maintain aircraft overhead luggage bins.
This product exceeds the life of paint and dramatically improves the time and ease of keeping them looking new, according to TTF Aerospace. “If you spend any time in airports you can view a lot of anxiety at boarding about if there will be enough space for their bag,” says TTF Aerospace creative director Andy Carlson. “[But] this is also one of the first places passengers look and there first impression of the airline, a damaged bin can provide a unmaintained condition of the airline.”
The typical upkeep and maintenance of overhead stow bins for a Boeing 737 require that the aircraft to be taken out of commission every eighteen months and the bins removed and repainted. This process normally adds an additional 30-50 lbs of paint each time the process is repeated, as many as eight times. According to Carlson, one installation of TSkin adds 30-44 lbs, but when replaced, the new skin is not layered on top of the old layer like the paint. The old layer of TSkin is removed and a new one adhered.
The service life of TSkin is about the same as that of a coat of paint, but offers airlines a much less time-intensive application than paint, and provides air travellers a fresh and updated impression of the aircraft their air carrier is flying. TSkin has been tested inflight around world for the past two years.
Each of these three products – CartMAX, cabinBART and TSkin – is either in the development or test phase with the long-term goal of improving the flight experience for both flight crew members and airline passengers. CartMAX and TSkin were incepted with the mutual intention of improving the passengers’ perceptions of the physical appearance of aircraft and support equipment, while cabinBART is intended to provide a tempered waste product disposal system to fliers. Passengers may be seeing more of CartMAX, TSkin and cabinBART on their future flights.