Amid a dearth of new plane models, the aviation industry is intensifying the search for in-cabin innovations to lure passengers with wider seats, faster service and even fresh pancakes.
Among developments this year, Qatar Airways revealed a business berth which can be swivelled to form a meeting area for four or a double bed. Dubai-based Emirates, which already offers airborne showers on its A380 superjumbos, is giving its flying bars a saloon-style redo. Meanwhile, Airbus Group SE on Tuesday said it's redesigning the A380 double-decker's so-called grand staircase to create more space for passengers.
The next generation of gizmos, on show at the 2017 Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg starting Tuesday, includes innovations aimed at boosting seat density, automating in-flight service (watch out cabin crew!) and keeping passengers entertained. Alongside the more practical advances are others that may not ever see the light of day. Bloomberg picks out five innovations worth a look.
Tired of losing the beverage-cart lottery? Paris-based Altran has invented a robotic waiter that takes your drink and snack order in advance and rolls it up to your row. The self-driving trolley also collects garbage at the end of the flight, which leaves more time for human attendants to focus on important issues like safety. And fashion violations. Alas, the robot lacks arms, so the job of passing hot coffee to window-seat passengers will be outsourced to the lucky aisle-seat occupants.
Using technology that's already in action to disinfect hospitals and municipal water supplies, the GermFalcon will zap ultraviolet light across the cabin to sanitise armrests, tray tables and even toilets. It looks like a beverage cart with arms and can destroy bacteria and viruses on 54 seats in 1 minute. There's already so much radiation at airports and in planes, who's going to be bothered by a few rays more?