Crystal Cabin Award 2017: Best concepts for aircraft cabin

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The Crystal Cabin Awards were presented in Hamburg for the 11th time on Tuesday evening. The winners of the most famous and prestigious international prize for aircraft interiors, Delta Air Lines, Diehl, Global Eagle Entertainment, Vanema, the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW) and twice Airbus, received their trophies in the Ball Room of the Hotel Atlantic Kempinski.

More exciting than ever before – with Bombardier, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, three international heavyweights went up against each other in the category for best “Cabin Concept”.


The Crystal Cabin Award trophies are presented each year as part of the “Aircraft Interiors Expo” trade fair. The award, an initiative of Hamburg Aviation, was more international and more hotly contested than ever before in its eleven year history, with 85 submissions from 21 countries in 2017. Major players in the industry were well represented, with Airbus alone having four entries make it to the final round.

The list of finalists for the “Cabin Concepts” category was especially glamorous this year. Honours went to Delta Air Lines for the “Delta One Suite”. Cabin areas enclosed with privacy partitions give a First Class feeling to Business Class travel. Carefully selected materials, mood lighting and technology work together to ensure an aesthetically exclusive travel experience. The coveted trophy was presented by Polly Magraw from Reed Exhibitions, organiser of the Aircraft Interiors Expo.

The award in the “Cabin Systems” category for 2017 went to Diehl Aerospace. The “Power Line Communication” concept promises less cable spaghetti and, as a result, a significant reduction in aircraft weight. If Diehl has its way, the power cables already present in aircraft can be used in the future to carry data as well. Ian Harbison from the specialist magazine Aircraft Cabin Management presented the prize.

The award in the “Electronic Systems” category, presented by Mary Kirby, founder of the US “Runway Girl Network” blog, was won by Global Eagle Entertainment. The US company’s entertainment system streams films, offers various on-demand platforms for series and magazines, and allows users to surf the internet on their own personal devices.

Major impact with minimal materials is the key for the winner in the “Greener Cabin, Health, Safety and Environment” category. The Airbus ReTrolley recycles and compresses passenger’s rubbish whilst it is still being pushed through the cabin. The recycler on wheels is one of the start-up projects successfully supported by the “Airbus BizLab” accelerator program. The award was presented by Peter Bishop, CEO of Hamburg-based Bishop GmbH – Aeronautical Engineers.

Vanema in collaboration with Boxmark promises relief from the unpleasantness of sitting in an aircraft for long stretches. Individual foam springs distribute the passenger’s weight evenly, adapting to the passenger. The “Octaspring” concept won the team the Crystal Cabin Award in the “Material & Components” category, presented by Zuzana Hrnkova, a member of the jury and Vice President of Marketing at the regional aircraft manufacturer ATR Aircraft.

Flexibility was the order of the day in the “Passenger Comfort Hardware” category, won by Airbus in collaboration with Recaro and THK for their “Smart Cabin Reconfiguration”. The innovation means that the rails for mounting aircraft seats can be repositioned by the cabin crew without any prior mechanical knowledge in response to the load factor for the flight. Seats can be removed or added in just a few simple steps. Adam Mellen from the plastic component manufacturer Boltaron presented the trophy.

All smiles and celebration for the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW): the “Smart Onboard Wheelchair” concept won the “University” category, prevailing against two competitors from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. Thanks to a specially shaped seat, the wheelchair can be rolled directly over the on-board toilet, allowing the passenger to use the lavatory independently. The trophy was presented by Paul Estoppey, responsible for the hub airlines Austrian, Lufthansa and SWISS within the Lufthansa Group.

This is the future on board: The awarded concepts of the 11th Crystal Cabin Award give an impression of how we will fly in the near future. The importance of visionary thinking was underlined in the keynote of Neil Brooker, Global Director, Strategic Partnering, Creative Consulting and Operations of BMW Designworks: “Visions not only require imagination and profound knowledge of future context, they must also be embedded in a company´s business processes and structure to ensure that the they do not get diluted on the way to implementation”.

All of the finalists’ products and concepts will be presented tomorrow, Thursday 6 April, at 10:00 a.m. in the Crystal Cabin Award Gallery (Hall B3, upper floor) at the world’s largest cabin trade fair, the Aircraft Interiors Expo (4 – 6 April in Hamburg). The winners will present their concepts to the public in person.