One of the things that have been emerging the past few years is the concept of the “Smart Cabin” with manufacturers moving forward the idea of connecting elements of the cabin up into a data-connected experience.
What does this mean to you and me?
The Connected Cabin brings together the data experiences, and flows them out to both crews, passengers and ground support, brought together with the internet of things, allowing servers, sensors, wireless services all to be monitored and orchestrated.
Currently, in the cabin – Airbus is working with its Skywise service with GateGormet (in the galley), Recaro Aircraft Seating and Stelia Aerospace in the seat
Some practical examples were demonstrated at Aircraft Interiors Expo
Both Recaro Aerospace Seating and Stelia Aerospace demonstrated the connected seat concept.
Looking at the Recaro example, they have a two-fold ability – to feedback to the onboard crew what state the seat is in (eg, reclined, takeoff/landing position) as well as providing line information to maintenance in case there are part replacement needs.
In the case of the Stelia Business Class seat (in this case Opal), it’ possible to use an accompanying phone app to customise the seat settings to how you had them in previous flights, what lighting you need set up and so on.
The overhead bins
How full is an overhead bin?
We all know from hard experience that it can be fun judging how full the overhead bin is on a flight. Well, the ability to put sensors in them to show the fullness of the bin helps a fair bit. In the example demonstrated, there’s a rainbow indicator to show the load level of each part of the bin. Again, this can be used to log data of use, where the cabin is lighter rather than loaded.
GateGourment showed off how IoT sensors can help, with programmable galley carts that can sense the position they’re in, their contents, inventory management. Why is this important? Galley space is constrained these days, with the cabin encroaching ever deeper into it. By accurately knowing what is being used, airlines can choose to load the right products that will sell – rather than products taking space and fuel on routes. It can also be used to for charging devices to, such as this coffee machine in the air, as well as receiving orders to the galley (avoiding the push and pulls of the trolley down the aisle)
Bringing the ideas together
A lot of what was demonstrated isn’t new in many respects (the Recaro system has been around in the case of the CL3710 iStar concept, whilst Stelia has been demonstrating their connected seat for some time.)
In the past, they’ve been all talking on different standards, different protocols and different implementations. Airbus’s Skywise intelligent cabin is trying to pull a lot of this together, and start building on the items out there, as well the interoperability, and understanding behind the data
One of the things that will sell a system like this won’t be for what it can do for the end facing consumer – it will be what it can for the airline to save money at the back end – in predictive maintenance, in where items should be, where things are loaded, and how they’re being used.
And the some consumer parts will be “happy byproducts” of an airline implementing some part of this system
SkyWise is a big product set that also handles Maintenance and Repair Operations, with Allegiant for some functions including Skywise Health Monitoring (SHM) – with Allegiant Air on its A320s. This is tied to Skywise Reliability Services (SRS) and Skywise Predictive Maintenance (SPM) – with data feeds/diagnostic sent via an aircraft ACARS link to the airline’s information system.
As we move to the age of the connected cabin and the connected aircraft – there’s plenty of growth in the future in the data that they generate – as well as the savings.
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