Raisable seats and UV toilets win innovative aircraft cabin awards

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The Crystal Cabin Award trophies are presented each year as part of the Aircraft Interiors Expo

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Comfier aircraft cabins are something we can all get on board with, and the Crystal Cabin Award is aimed at developing just that. First presented in 2007, the award honors innovative products and concepts for aircraft interiors. The eight 2016 winners have been picked from 95 entrants hailing from 18 countries.

A new category for this year was Cabin Concepts, which was to be awarded to an innovative complete cabin design that already existed. The category was won by Etihad Airways, for a clever use of cabin space that gives passengers in its Boeing 787 the same level of comfort as in its Airbus A380.

The Cabin Systems category rewards beneficial cabin products, such as seats, galleys, lavatories, trolleys, air conditioning, waste and potable water systems, and acoustics. This year's winner was B/E Aerospace for its "Viu" lighting system, which employs flexible LED lights to illuminate "almost every space in the cabin."

The category with the fastest growing product range is Electronic Systems, which recognizes electronic offerings like in-flight entertainment and connectivity. The 2016 winner is Lufthansa Systems, with its "BoardConnect Portable" system, which combines a portable server, a modem, an entertainment package and an access point for up to 50 passengers and their mobile devices. The portability of the hardware box means it can be carried through the cabin as needed. In addition, new content can easily be installed via a USB stick.

The Greener Cabin, Health, Safety and Environment category is open to a variety of products. It looks for innovations that reduce negative effects on the environment or minimize health or safety hazards or security problems for passengers, staff or live cargo. This year, the award went to Boeing's "Fresh Lavatory" on-board toilet, which uses UV light to automatically disinfect surfaces and the water supply when the passenger leaves the room, and also employs infrared sensors to minimize hand contact required for using the toilet, water tap, hand dryer and door lock.

The development of new materials, new material applications or a new combination of materials that can cut production costs or maximize usability for cabin systems is honored by the Material and Components category. Sekisui SPI won this year, with its "Infused Imaging" thermoplastic surface design that offers more options for printing on cabin elements, such as seat shells and partition walls.

In-cabin passenger comfort innovations are recognized in the Passenger Comfort Hardware category. Entries are able to cater for all passengers or for specific passenger groups, although, all other things being equal, it will be awarded to a product that caters for more people. Rebel.Aero is this year's winner, with a seat that is able to fold upwards to give the passenger more legroom.

The Visionary Concepts category is for innovative ideas regarding the aircraft cabins of tomorrow. Zodiac Aerospace won the category this year, with its "Lifestyle Cabin" proposing a redefined set of cabin categories. Areas for sleeping, meeting and lounging would replace the traditional class system, allowing passengers to use tailored areas for different purposes.

Finally, the University category is for college and university students to present their visions for innovative cabin products and concepts. This year's winner was Manon Kühne from Delft University of Technology, for her economy-class "hammock" headrest that uses fold-out wings to provide a more comfortable head position when sleeping or resting.

The Crystal Cabin Award trophies are presented each year as part of the Aircraft Interiors Expo. This year's winners were announced this Tuesday.

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