Archive for April, 2010
Human Factors in Ultra-Long Haul Air Travel
It is generally agreed that non-stop flights to places like London – Sydney are well within the range of technical possibility, but the economics still prove elusive. As the industry and passengers work through the practical issues to make such “ultra-long haul” travel possible, what are the human factors and ergonomics that will be required to make passengers more comfortable without sacrificing yield?
The latest generation of airliners already goes a long way to addressing some of these issues. For instance, with the new generation of Boeing airpcraft, two of the most important issues related to passenger and crew comfort have been addressed in new and innovative ways.
The question of relative humidity and air quality on the new Dreamliner series of aircraft show a great deal of potential for increasing passenger comfort on any flight segment. While most commercial aircraft in operation today can give passengers a perfectly acceptable level of atmospheric conditions (equivalent to those at approximately 2,700 meters (9,000 feet) above sea level) there are some bio-dynamic stresses that such altitudes place on the body.*
The new Dreamliner claims to be able to deliver a cabin atmosphere of approximately 1,800 meters (6,000 feet) above sea level, which would represent a major increase in overall cabin air quality when measured in terms of relative humidity and constant oxygen content. Boeing claims that there is almost no difference between 1, 800 metres and sea level, although some of us who ski or hike may beg to differ just a little. Either way, this could mean a significant reduction in overall passenger comfort as well as lessen flight fatigue, making these ultra-long haul sectors more appealing.
In addition, there are a number of new cabin LOPAs (Layout of Passenger Accomodation) that in my opinion represent innovative moves forward for passenger comfort. Some of my personal favourites across all cabins include:
· The new “Sky Couch” being rolled out by Air New Zealand, and designed by Altitude Interiors. I am intrigued by the overall concept of offering this new product in the economy cabin, and believe that it represents a step change in cabin interior innovation for families, couples, and even individual passengers. I look forward to seeing how the economics of this new product play out in the marketplace.
· I am also truly impressed with the new British Airways First product. This collaboration between BA, B/E Aerospace, and Tangerine Design. While the aesthetic is pleasing, what I appreciate most about the new product is the increase in the shoulder width available to the passenger when reclined fully into the flat-bed. This detail alone sets this new seat and LOPA apart from other competing herring-bone products which I feel do not offer the same shoulder comfort for those passengers who might have a slightly different build from your average European passenger.
· I would also be remiss if I did not mention the existing and just emerging LOPAs for the A380 aircraft. From Singapore Airlines, Air France, and Emirates each new delivery seems to bring us something new and game changing in each of the cabins.
· I also believe that the new SWISS First and Business product built in collaboration with Sicma Aero offers trans-continental passengers a new and very comfortable experience in both cabins. From the very Swiss design incorporating the lightly coloured woods and whites, to the luxurious First Class suites, I feel there is potential here for these designs in ultra long haul aircraft as well.
On feature of particular value to the passenger in the know is the Business Class product: Row K. A lone Business Class Seat on the left of the aircraft, with generous personal space to your right, it exceeded all expectations.
Overall, I think that the major issue with ultra-long haul will be with the new aircraft and the emerging balance of new LOPAs and the unique yield opportunities that some of these innovations represent. It is my sincere belief that “fortune favours the brave” and that we continue to see cabin innovations of this quality for a long time to come.
Please contact us for further info.
Other links worth visiting:
Air New Zealand and their stand-alone firm Altitude Interiors Skycouch
Tangerine Product Designers and the New British Airways First Class Seat
B/E Aerospace and British Airways New First Class Suites
* These levels are perfectly acceptable, and do not
represent any compromise to passenger or crew member safety.