How flights of the future could feature double-decker cabins and noise-reducing headrests

Designs shortlisted in the 2022 Crystal Cabin Awards also look to reduce the environmental impact of aviation

Could flying in the future look like this? Crystal Cabin Awards 2022's shortlisted designs range from innovative cabin designs to sustainable concepts. Photo: Crystal Cabin Awards
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The best airline innovations for 2022 include double-decker cabins where each passenger has a sleeping space, headrests with built-in noise cancellation technology and an AI-based scanner that eliminates food waste on flights.

Each of these concepts has been shortlisted by the Crystal Cabin Awards as ideas that could be the future of aviation.

The only international award for excellence in aircraft interior innovation, these awards are often described as the "Oscars" of the industry.

The Switch seat from Style and Design is designed for a premium economy cabin with armchair-like seats. Photo: Crystal Cabin Awards

This year's shortlisted concepts are spread across eight categories, from innovative cabin designs that transform the passenger experience of flying, to concepts prioritising an aviation industry that operates more sustainably.

Floating furniture and cocoon-like pods

The Collins AirLounge design. Photo: Crystal Cabin Awards

Flying could look radically different for passengers if concepts such as Elevate make it to production. The entry by Teague and Nordam presents a "floating" furniture strategy that's designed to bring wide-body comfort to single-aisle business class flights.

Finnair's new business class offering has also made the shortlist. AirLounge does away with traditional elements of flying, such as being able to recline your seat, and instead offers passengers an organic, cocoon-like pod to settle into.

Foldable seats that can shift along their axis and to the side are part of the Shift Cabin Interior design, an entry by student Jiayi Yu from the Reutlingen University. This allows passengers to move their seats into different positions depending on whether they want to work or relax, and also gives airlines the prospect of fitting more business class seats into existing spaces.

The Mmillenniumm AirSleeper turns existing cabin space into a double-decker design. Photo: Crystal Cabin Awards

AirSleeper is a concept from Mmillenniumm in which existing cabin spaces are transformed into double-decker cabins, with options for lie-flat beds.

The impact of the pandemic is reflected in some of the nominees, like in the Switch seat from Style and Design, which imagines a premium economy cabin with fewer passengers, social distancing and sleek armchair-like seats.

AI-powered food scanners and recycled plane cushions

The MyZone design incorporates noise reduction technology into passenger headrests.  Photo: Crystal Cabin Awards

Flying could also get quieter with the MyZone design from ACM - Aircraft Cabin Modification. This idea applies active noise cancellation technology to passengers' headrests to reduce cabin noise and also has the ability to use aircraft windows as loudspeakers.

In a bid to make aviation more sustainable, several companies have submitted eco-focused designs.

Some of the most impressive include The Vita Group's recycling system for old cushions that offers passengers an option to book a seat with a lower environmental impact, and Airbus Operations' AI-based Airspace Food Scanner that captures data about passengers’ food consumption, producing valuable data for airlines to adapt their catering services to better match customer demand.

AI-powered food scanners allow airlines to reduce wastage on flights. Photo: Crystal Cabin Awards

Etihad Airways previously trialled similar technology on its flights, using machine learning to help tackle the problem of food waste on its flights.

Three finalists in each category will be announced in May, with the winners set to be revealed on Tuesday, June 14 at a ceremony in Hamburg, Germany.

Updated: March 19, 2022, 1:45 PM