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Breaking the mould

Desire Lines is a new passenger cabin design concept from Zodiac Aerospace and creative agency New Territory

If you walk through a park, there will often be tracks in the grass that have evolved as people find a more direct route to where they want go, rather than following the footpath. In urban planning terms, these are called ‘desire lines’, says Luke Miles, Director at New Territory.


Such freedom is generally impossible in the traditional grid layout and hierarchical class structure of conventional aircraft cabins. You buy your ticket, get on board and sit down. From there, your food, drink and entertainment are brought to your seat. When you are finished, depending how far forward you are, the seat converts to a bed and you go to sleep. Of course, there are exceptions, but these are limited to bar areas for premium passengers on carriers like Emirates, Etihad, Qatar and Virgin Atlantic (where Miles was Global Head of Design at the time of the launch of the new Boeing 787-9 interior).


He says his company was approached by Zodiac more than a year ago. From there, discussions were held surrounding the look of travel in the next 10 years, as well as what new concepts could be developed. Hugo Jamson, associate director at New Territory, who is working closely with Miles on the project, adds that the aim was to provoke questions from airlines, meaning the concept crosses “a fuzzy line between the possible and the fantastic”. That means the finer details are yet to be resolved in some areas, although it does take into account some regulatory limitations, especially for safe evacuation; as such, aisle widths and cross aisles to emergency exits have been retained. The Boeing 777 has been used as a baseline for the cabin interior, Miles adds. Tom Eaton, Head of Advanced Concepts at Zodiac Seats, commented that the concept seeks to break up the ‘tube’ of today both architecturally and in terms of service, entirely disrupting the notion of ‘one size fits all’.


The three key themes of the concept are: to create a more human experience onboard the aircraft that promotes passengers’ wellbeing; challenge the architecture of today’s platforms and create new customer experiences within them; and explore new ways to support airlines in differentiating themselves, while also  generating additional revenue streams amidst an increasingly competitive market.


The project started with insight-gathering from a broad range of global brands, such as hotels, food, technology, and health and wellbeing. This was followed by looking at how the needs of passengers dictated their movement throughout a flight and how this might be used to improve their flow through the cabin. Finally, there was research into how services could be decoupled from the seating – essentially, passengers move to where food and drink are located, rather than having these items delivered to them.


Consideration was also given to the entire cabin as a system, rather than as separate component parts. This allowed new revenue models to be proposed that challengeed the overall layout, even stepping outside the normal boundaries of floor and ceiling. While the overall seat count is slightly reduced, there are several new opportunities for airlines to generate compensatory ancillary revenue. As each element is a separate module, airlines would be able to select only the features they feel are economically viable.


There are six main elements that form the basis of the Desire Lines concept:


Private berth

This could be described as first or business class, but this is not really appropriate as the hierarchy has been abolished. The ticket provides a seat in the forward cabin for taxi, takeoff and landing (TTL). However, passengers will use a staircase to descend to the lower deck, where there are a number of spacious lounge cabins with a boutique hotel feel.


Available for one or two people, they feature banquette seating that converts into a wide, flat bed. As well as a large wall-mounted screen for IFE, it might be possible to add a real time augmented or stylised view from the aircraft, to give the illusion of looking outside. It is foreseen that there will be more cabins than seats, making some available for hire by other passengers. This could be for a short period for private dining or a meeting, or longer for sleep. The forward cabin also contains a bar area as well as seating around tables, with the seats vacated by passengers moving to their berths also available to visitors.  >>

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