Hamburg hosts high flying innovators at global aviation show

16th May, 2019

Voice-activated entertainment systems and first class three-bed cabins were among the innovations showcased at Aircraft Interiors Expo held in Hamburg 2 – 4 April 2019.

Aircraft Interiors Expo is the world’s leading event for airlines and the supply chain to source the latest innovations, technologies and products for the cabin interiors, inflight entertainment and passenger comfort industries. It has taken place in Germany’s second largest city every year since 2002 with this year marking its 20th anniversary.

The Expo is the main component of “Passenger Experience Week” which includes the Passenger Experience Conference, the World Travel & Catering Expo (focusing on in-flight catering) and Passenger Technology Solutions (focusing on aviation-related IT services). All these events took place across 11 halls of Hamburg Messe and together attracted more than 18,000 visitors including 2,000 buyers and decision makers from airlines and rail operators.

Boom industry: the growing importance of aircraft interiors 

Aircraft interiors are growing in importance and are increasingly serving the role of a “business card” for airlines, especially in the premium segment. At the same time, every square centimeter of space is precious. If the aircraft cabin were an apartment, the monthly rental would equate to some 1,400 euros per square meter. Innovation therefore lies at the heart of increase efficiency and passenger comfort in a tightly packed cabin.

Celebrating 20 years of cabin innovations

Reaffirming its position as the place to announce the latest cabin innovations, Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) welcomed 500 exhibitors from the world’s leading airframe manufacturers, lighting and material suppliers showcasing the latest trends in aircraft seats and in-flight entertainment. To mark the event’s 20th anniversary, new features were introduced including the Passenger Technology Solutions Hackathon - teams were given just 48 hours to develop a functional concept, using new technologies to tackle issues and help shape the future of the global passenger experience industry.

One of the delegates, Suesan Chen, Onboard Product Design Specialist, United Airlines, commented: “Passenger experience means everything to our customers and that's what we're striving towards. That's what is great about this event – we can see new suppliers pushing the boundaries. AIX offers a chance for all of the vendors and suppliers in this industry to put their best foot forward.”

Innovators flying high at awards

Winners of the Crystal Cabin Award, launched by Hamburg’s own aviation cluster and now a firm fixture of the Expo, were announced at a Gala Dinner held in the trading floor hall of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce. Guests included Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates; Hamburg’s Governing Mayor; Dr Peter Tschentscher, Juha Jarvinen, Executive Vice President Commercial at Virgin Atlantic, and the German Government’s Coordinator of Aerospace Policy, Thomas Jarzombek. Winning innovations included the “Skycouch” transforming an Economy seating row into a bed surface and now including safety belts to secure babies and infants. The “Entertainment for All” in-flight entertainment system by United Airlines includes large displays and voice recognition for visually impaired passengers. Another winner, “Peacock Suites”, are First Class cabins which can be reconfigured as required, transforming into family compartments with a bunk bed or even a three-room luxury suite.

“The idea for the Crystal Cabin Award was born 13 years ago in our city. The competition honours intelligent and forward-looking innovation in cabin interiors and thus promotes comfort and technological progress in aviation," explained Hamburg's First Mayor Dr Peter Tschentscher.

Hamburg showcases world-leading aviation innovation 

As one of the most important aviation location in Europe and the third largest in the world, Hamburg’s aviation expertise was out in force at Aircraft Interiors Expo. Hamburg headquartered Lufthansa Technik showcased its solutions to problems in the galley area, where flight attendants regularly get chilled feet and colds because of the unheated floors, and the lack of USB ports for passengers to charge their smartphones in flight. The company also announced a partnership with EAD Aerospace, Envoy Aerospace and Etihad Airways Engineering, together forming the Independent Aircraft Modifier Alliance (IAMA). 

Hamburg’s Aviation cluster - dedicated to advancing the city as an aviation location – invited a delegation of Canadian suppliers to visit local companies during the Expo and held a reception for a delegation of Canadian representatives, including the Minister of Economy for Québec, Pierre Fitzgibbon. 

Katie Murphy, Portfolio Director for Passenger Experience Week, said: “It was fantastic to return to Hamburg this year to mark the 20th anniversary of Aircraft Interiors Expo. The show continues to prove its place as the most important date in the industry calendar as we welcome air, rail and cruise buyers from every corner of the globe to source new products, learn about the latest trends and undertake four days of busy networking. We look forward to returning to Hamburg in 2020.”

The event has seen huge growth since its launch in 2000. Polly Magraw, Event Director at Reed Exhibitions, explained: “Since 2000 where we had 77 exhibitors to now 20 years later and 500+ exhibiting companies, we have showcased the latest product innovations including aircraft seating, inflight entertainment and lighting and we’re now firmly established as the global event for airlines looking for innovative technologies and solutions that will improve passenger experience.”

Made in Hamburg – global aviation expertise

No matter where in the world you board an aircraft, it is quite likely that parts of it are developed and made in Hamburg, the world’s third biggest aviation site. More than 40,000 people are employed in the industry here, working for the three major aviation players — Airbus, Lufthansa Technik and Hamburg Airport — and for 300+ small and medium-sized enterprises as well as diverse technological, scientific, academic and public institutions in Hamburg. Dozens of suppliers of all sizes, research institutions, such as the ZAL Center of Applied Aeronautical Research and the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences all focus on aircraft interiors. Hamburg has earned international recognition in the aviation community as a centre of special competence for aircraft cabins and cabin systems.

Companies, universities, associations, the economic authority and other partners have come together to form Hamburg Aviation, a cluster dedicated to advancing the city as an aviation location.

Hamburg’s First Mayor, Dr Peter Tschentscher, explained: “The final assembly and delivery of one in every six airliners worldwide takes place in Hamburg. More than 40,000 highly qualified specialists work in the civil aviation industry in Hamburg, some 3,000 of them are in the field of cabin development. The Aircraft Interiors Expo underlines our status as an important location for this field.”

Nele Aumann, head of the Hamburg Convention Bureau's (HCB) Conventions unit, concludes: “The Aircraft Interiors Expo is a great showcase for Hamburg as a place for aviation. At the HCB, we focus our congress acquisition activities strongly on Hamburg's cluster industries in order to strengthen the city sustainably through congresses. The aviation cluster is of great relevance to us. The high-calibre Aircraft Interiors Expo helps to cement Hamburg’s position as a top aviation destination. Such leading events also attract the attention of other planners in this sector to Hamburg – this then creates a pulling power with which we can win further congresses for our destination.”

The Aircraft Interiors Expo will return to Hamburg 30 March – 2 April 2020.

For more details about Hamburg’s aviation expertise and cluster, click here.

Photo credit: Cover image Hamburg Aviation

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