The design of airplane cabins has come a long way since the early days of commercial flying, but there's still plenty of room for improvement, as anyone who’s battled for elbow room or carry-on luggage space knows. Priestmangoode, the design firm behind the rebranded interiors of Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa, recently unveiled a new cabin design that'll hit the skies in 2018. E2, for the Brazilian aerospace conglomerate Embraer, attempts to fix many of the problems of existing cabins, from cramped seating and bathrooms to too-small carry-on bins and excessive fuel consumption.
The design can be applied to both coach and business class. Priestmangoode's design allows for the same seat tracks and bins to be used throughout the aircraft, regardless of the class. Embraer's commercial clients include JetBlue, American Eagle, Delta, and US Airways.
Priestmangoode's goal with this single-aisle cabin was to increase space and efficiency all around, for passengers’ comfort, and for ecological and economic reasons. “There is a constant drive in aviation to develop more eco-friendly designs, not just in terms of the materials used, but in improving fuel consumption,” Paul Priestman, designer and co-founding director of Priestmangoode, tells Co.Design. One key way to do this is to reduce the overall weight of the plane, which the team achieved by slimming down seats and offering airlines an optional lower magazine pocket. More lightweight seats not only make for a lighter plane that uses less fuel, but free up more space in the cabin for passengers as well.
So no strangers' arms will trespass on your precious territory, Priestmangoode has redone the Personal Energy Supply Units (PSUs)—the air and light control unit above the seats. They’ve made what they claim are the first individual PSUs, which let each passenger control the light and air overhead without disturbing the passenger next to them. "Until now, there has always been a joint PSU that passengers on one row share," Priestman says. "Say, for instance, the passenger next to you wanted to turn their reading light on or off, they would need to encroach on your personal space to do so." The redesign addresses that problem.
Competing with fellow passengers to cram your overstuffed carry-on into overhead bins is one of the worst parts of flying. “It was a challenge to increase bin capacity while not taking away personal space from the passenger area,” Priestman says. In Priestmangoode's design, instead of flipping upward when they’re opened, the lids of bins slide to integrate with the cabin ceiling, making for a cleaner look. They design increases capacity by 40%, Priestmangoode says, so each passenger can fit one piece of airline-standard carry-on luggage into a bin wheels first. Legs have also been removed between plane seats, which lets bigger items be stored underneath, and reduces plane weight.
Ultimately, the new design carves away much of the material that was unnecessary in current plane cabins, making for a lighter and roomier interior—meaning less passive aggression between you and all those annoying fellow passengers who keep getting all up in your space.
The E2 jets will start flying in 2018.