AIM Altitude's ARCA is reinventing the gallery service

ARCA galley system unveiled

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AIM Altitude's ARCA is reinventing the gallery service

AIM Altitude has unveiled ARCA – an efficient galley system that offers enhanced hygiene whilst giving back space to airlines and increasing sustainability.

ARCA is a new boxed meal system. Rather than crew having to handle open meal trays packed with loose components, ARCA consists simply of a hot meal-pack and an accompanying boxed cold meal-pack, which nest securely together. The majority of the contents are safely sealed away in the box. This has significant benefits for hygiene, passenger confidence and minimising the risk of transmitting infection.

The ARCA meal-pack boxes double as closing waste-containers. This was originally intended to aid recycling and divert waste from landfills, but since the pandemic, also has the advantage of reducing crew contact with left-over food and used utensils.

AIM Altitude is part of AVIC Cabin Systems (ACS) a global alliance of cabin interiors specialists. Ross Burns, Head of Industrial Design at AVIC Cabin Systems and co-creator of ARCA said: “We originally developed ARCA before Covid-19. The concept was devised to make aircraft meals more eco-friendly, more easily customised, and to save galley space. All of these positives are still achieved by ARCA but it is also now hugely relevant in enhancing hygiene, helping crew and passengers to maintain social distancing and lessening the risk of infection.”

ARCA can be retrofitted with minimal reconfiguration. Its architecture seamlessly integrates into the existing airframe and central crew areas are easily configured so familiarity and efficiency are not compromised. Common inserts such as ovens, coffee makers and water boilers can still be used.

ARCA is highly customisable, from the galley system itself being adaptable for twin- and single-aisle aircraft, to the meal boxes, which can be uniquely designed with the latest brand graphics.

Its adaptable nature means ARCA is future proof. It can be further configured to allow self-service, snack offerings, or to be used as a dedicated stowage for special meals. The ARCA core principles are translatable to other platforms such as the A320 and B737, to maximise the true potential of this significant design.

The ARCA pack is stackable and has a much smaller footprint than a tray. Meals are stored in an aesthetically pleasing, refrigerated aisle-stowage unit. Boxed in sets of 16, the meals can be easily moved onto an ARCA-designed, lightweight folding trolley for meal service.

ARCA caters for the same number of passengers within a smaller footprint, thereby enabling airlines to reclaim lost space compared to a traditional configuration, enough to allow for an extra row of seats or a monument feature. The ARCA design also facilitates the replacement of heavy and expensive trolley equipment, which translates into a beneficial weight-saving.

ARCA offers compostable and recyclable packaging to enable zero landfill flights. In co-operation with the catering partner, the meal-pack contents can be customised by the passenger. They benefit by receiving the food of their choice, with satisfied passengers and food-waste reduction the likely consequences. After the meal, the carrier boxes are repurposed into waste containers for recycling and separate compacting.

Burns commented: “Air travel has long been criticised for its carbon footprint, but the sustainability debate has now reached a new level of urgency, along with the need for Covid-secure cabins. We have had great feedback from potential customers, reinforcing our belief that ARCA could be a real revolution in meal service in terms of sustainability, space efficiency, and hygiene.”

Thompson Aero's VantageSOLO seat

ACS targeting single-aisle market

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Thompson Aero's VantageSOLO seat

AVIC Cabin Systems (ACS) has introduced a collection of innovative products designed specifically to support the increasing demand in the single-aisle market.

Under development at ACS for some time as part of its long-term product development strategy and vision of the future for commercial aviation, the innovations are the VantageSOLO seat from Thompson Aero Seating, LAV4ALL from FACC, the JT32XE seat from Jiatai, and galley concept from AIM Altitude.

Andy Morris, VP Commercial at AVIC Cabin Systems, said: “The possibilities for single-aisle aircraft are rapidly growing, with longer-range flights being regularly introduced. Whilst the distances are possible, it is vital that airlines also make the journeys comfortable and pleasurable. ACS is working to introduce bespoke products that will align the single-aisle long-range passenger experience with twin-aisle. Our innovations include a fully horizontal flat-bed with direct aisle access from only a 33” seat pitch; and a lavatory, fully accessible to all, that is designed to fit comfortably and efficiently within a single-aisle aircraft. We are also looking at introducing a new economy seat targeted for the Chinese market that is leading the recovery of global aviation; and our new ground-breaking galley concept enables a full onboard catering service, including two meal services, within the same footprint as current galley designs. Every one of these exciting products will truly enhance the single-aisle aircraft experience.”

The new VantageSOLO by Thompson Aero Seating has been developed and designed specifically in response to the rapidly emerging medium- to long-range market now being serviced by single-aisle aircraft. From only a 33” seat pitch, the VantageSOLO offers a fully horizontal flat-bed with direct aisle access for every seat. This can be configured with either an open aisle end, a fixed privacy screen, or a full-function suite door, offering an exclusive business-class seating experience normally only the preserve of a wide-body cabin.

JetBlue, the launch customer for VantageSOLO, has recently been revealed. The Mint 2.0 suite features a fully bespoke version of the VantageSOLO, with all seats having suite doors – a first for a Business Class cabin on an A321.

FACC’s LAV4ALL is a completely barrier-free lavatory for passengers with reduced mobility. With the same external dimensions of a standard A320 lavatory, the tapered geometry offers passengers significantly more space. The arrangement has been devised so that people who use wheelchairs can use the LAV4ALL without any assistance for lifting. A carer can be accommodated, the available space being much larger than in conventional aircraft lavatories.

The LAV4ALL is equipped with many additional features, such as colour-highlighted supports and handles, optimisation of the sink mechanism, surfaces, lighting, etc. The mirror is also adjustable. The LAV4ALL is designed to support passengers with other additional needs, such as hearing-impairment, or parents requiring baby-changing facilities.

Jiatai is developing a new economy-class seat, the JT32XE, designed specifically for extended-range single aisle platforms. Jiatai will also be introducing the JT220B seat for business class.

AIM Altitude’s offering for a new single-aisle galley concept will be launched later this year. The ground-breaking design will offer a reduced footprint, enabling greater cabin density or, alternatively for longer range flights, more space for additional hot meals and snacks within the current galley footprint. Further details will be revealed shortly.

Andy Morris continued: “It is very exciting that four brands under AVIC Cabin Systems are able to come together in this way to make a complete offering for airlines. We are very much looking forward to more collaborations like this, which will benefit airlines in terms of innovation, differentiation, and profit margins.”

Cured pre-pregs have been tested at AIM Altitude’s facilities in Cambridgeshire and have shown substantially better fire properties than current phenolic pre-pregs.

Collaborative R&D project aims for greater cabin design freedom

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Cured pre-pregs have been tested at AIM Altitude’s facilities in Cambridgeshire and have shown substantially better fire properties than current phenolic pre-pregs.

AIM Altitude has collaborated with Composites Evolution and Sheffield Hallam University on an research and development project backed by Innovate UK.

Concluding in August 2020, the collaboration has sought to develop a nanocomposite material with exceptional fire and mechanical performance, suitable for use in aircraft interior applications.

The team has developed a unique thermosetting resin system, a blend of polyfurfuryl alcohol (PFA) with a specific additive mix, for the production of glass fibre pre-pregs using a hot-melt process.  The PFA resin base is produced from biomass waste, which has a mature, secure, low-cost supply, and does not compete with food production so is completely sustainable. The composite is similar to phenolic, but without the toxic phenol and formaldehyde compounds, making it safer across the whole product lifecycle.

Vernon Thomas, Engineering Manager at AIM Composites, said: “Materials and design options for composites in fire-critical applications are currently very limited. The nanocomposites we have developed have led to enhanced performance all round. It is a better, safer product, which is bio-based and renewable. The fire, smoke and toxicity (FST) performance is better than phenolics. The reduced porosity has great advantages for the finish, reducing costs considerably, and peel strength improvement gives vital increases to integrity and durability. All of which offers airlines greater opportunities for differentiation.”

The resulting cured pre-pregs have been tested at AIM Altitude’s facilities in Cambridgeshire and have shown substantially better fire properties than current phenolic pre-pregs. The surface finish is also superior, which in itself will substantially reduce downstream costs in defect rectification and preparation for decoration. The enhanced fire properties will permit the use of some decorative finishes not currently available for commercial aircraft interiors.

Crystal Cabin Award

Finalists announced for Crystal Cabin Awards

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Crystal Cabin Award

The final shortlist for this year’s Crystal Cabin Awards have been announced.

Some 105 shortlisted entries were viewed and evaluated by the jury of international experts, a record in the fourteen-year history of the Crystal Cabin Award. Airlines, manufacturers, suppliers and universities from all around the world have made it to the last round.

Winners will be announced in Hamburg on 31 March at a celebrity gala dinner for the industry during Aircraft Interiors Expo.

The finalists are:

Cabin Concepts:
The Boeing Company (cooperation partner Teague) – 777X Sky Architecture
Eviation & Almadesign – ALICE
Virgin Atlantic (cooperation partners AIM Altitude, Factorydesign, Boltaron, Isovolta, Mankiewicz UK & F.H.Lambert) – Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Loft

Cabin Systems:
Safran Cabin – SOPHY, The Smart Trolley Solution
SFS Intec GmbH Aircraft Components & jetlite GmbH – lite2fix
SITAONAIR – Next Gen Connectivity Mobile ONAIR 4G

Greener Cabin, Health, Safety & Environment:
ATR (cooperation partner Bacqueyrisses) – AudioBack
Diehl Aviation – Greywater Reuse Unit
PriestmanGoode – Zero – economy meal tray

JetBlue Airways (cooperation partners Thales Avionics, Spafax, Viasat & Astronics) – The Multi-Screen Experience
Safran Passenger Solutions – RAVE Bluetooth
Spafax (cooperation partner Air Canada) – Spafax IQ

Material & Components:
Diehl Aerospace – Experience Line BRIDGE
e₂ip technologies (cooperation partner National Research Council of Canada) – In-Mold Electronics (IME) A Paradigm Shift In Manufacturing And Design
Schott AG (cooperation partner PriestmanGoode)- The new SCHOTT® Jade reading light

Passenger Comfort Hardware:
Ciara Crawford – Row 1 Aircraft Wheelchair
Safran Seats (cooperation partner ENCSi) – Modulair S

Delft University of Technology (cooperation partner KLM) – Collapsible beds for the Flying V
HAW Hamburg – Isotravel: The ISOFIX-Adapter for Aircraft Passenger Seats
University of Cincinnati (cooperation partners The Boeing Company and The Live Well Collaborative) – Coffee House Cabin

Visionary Concepts:
AIM ALTITUDE – ARCA – Galley System
Airbus Operations GmbH – Airspace Cabin Vision 2030
AirGo Design – Galaxy: Flatbed for A321