Air travel may be set for a radical change after Airbus revealed a vision of the future where seats could be replaced by gyms, coffee bars, children’s play areas and a spa.
A new concept from the aviation manufacturer called ‘Transpose’ would allow airlines to customise cabins for each flight using modular technology.
Airlines could chop-and-change the interior setup in a matter of minutes in the project developed by an Airbus off-shoot called A³.
Jason Chua, project executive at A³, said: “How does this affect you, the passenger?
“Well, first and foremost, we believe that this project will enable entirely new categories of passenger experiences, making your time spent in the sky more interesting, personalized, and enjoyable.
“A gym could fill a module with exercise bikes, and give folks the opportunity to stay active.
"A major coffee chain could run a co-working cafe, providing artisanal beverages and a space for collaboration.
“An airline could design a kid-safe play zone (lined with sound absorbing materials) where families can spend quality time together.
“A seat manufacturer could test out a new sleeper seat before widely rolling out the product.
“You’re probably thinking, Sounds nice, but expensive. We’re convinced that this won’t be the case.
“Besides providing an unprecedented amount of choice and flexibility for passengers, our modeling and research shows that many experiences can be provided with little to no increase in the amount passengers currently pay for comparable experiences on the ground.
“Additionally, we’ve identified significant opportunities for advertisers and businesses to provide new revenue to airlines, potentially sidestepping the need to pass on some costs to passengers.”
He added that the system could benefit manufacturers like Airbus.
He said: “Transpose allows aircraft manufacturers to deliver finished aircraft to customers more quickly.
“Currently, work on cabin interiors can’t begin until the final weeks of the manufacturing process, but modular cabin interiors could be developed on a parallel timetable with the core fabrication of the aircraft itself."
They say they could have the Transpose enabled aircraft flying within a few years.
Mr Chua said: “Is that ambitious? Absolutely. But if we keep up our current pace, I think it’s completely achievable.
First flight of the Airbus A350-1000
“For the past year, our lean A³ team has recruited a great group of engineers, designers, and researchers from across the globe.
"We are also working closely with Airbus Group’s renowned experts in cabin and airframe engineering, as well as with Airbus industrial design.
"Together, we’ve kicked off manufacturing work around an initial module, and a full-sized aircraft mockup.”