Inflight’s Kimberley Young provides a summary of the latest happenings across the IFEC and cabin technology sector.

“I’m looking for change and opportunity,” said Ben Bettell at the RedCabin Aircraft Cabin Innovation Summit in London this week (3–4 December). The Counterpoint Market Intelligence program director perfectly summarised the objective of an event that brings together companies from across the sector to network, collaborate and consider innovative ways to answer the challenges of the passenger experience, and move the industry forward.

Proving the positive outcomes of this networking activity, SEKISUI SPI and partners revealed a seatback prototype (pictured) that was inspired by an airline’s ‘dream economy seat’ described at a previous RedCabin event. At the end of the event, SEKISUI SPI again stepped into the spotlight, this time with Butterfly Flexible Seat Solutions to announce a collaboration between the pair, aiming to bring the next iteration of the Butterfly prototype to Aircraft Interiors Expo in 2020.

Meanwhile, airlines and suppliers discussed the outcomes of successful partnerships, as well as a few of the trials. Katsunori Maki, manager of Products and Services Strategy for ANA, reviewed the innovations throughout the Japanese airline’s history, culminating in its most recent partnership with Toyota. When asked about similar, possibly competing partnerships in the industry, he stated: “We have a common target to make the journey more comfortable for passengers, so more suppliers and technology are welcome.”

Examining this question of passenger comfort and how the cabin could be further enhanced in the future, workshops throughout the event explored topics from long-haul single-aisle aircraft, sustainability, passenger wellbeing and accessibility.

The topic of accessibility was a key area of discussion throughout the event, with a panel focused on ‘Flying for all’ moderated by Christopher Wood, a member of the UK CAA Access to Air Travel Advisory Group and the Heathrow Access Advisory Group and founder of Flying Disabled. This thought-provoking session was followed later in the event with a working group led by Glenn Johnson, director of Industrial Design, Collins Aerospace, which considered ‘Empathy for all in the cabin’ and the various ways a cabin could be made more comfortable for passengers with a variety of needs.

Talking to Inflight, the CEO of RedCabin, Monica Wick, explained: “We have a range of key topics which are trends [in the industry], as well as ongoing topics such as accessibility. We decided this would be an ongoing topic, because we are here at the very beginning and would love to give specific topics a platform – and we will follow up on that topic again.”

For my part, I agree with Monica and think this is a great move that will ensure the topic of accessibility remains high on the agenda, and that amidst the innovation and creativity of the cabin interiors industry, we don’t just create cabins for a one-passenger demographic.

Let’s hope this spirit of collaboration can lead to more progress in ensuring all passengers can access and enjoy the positive and life-affirming experience of air travel.

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