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Family management

Airbus has implemented a common, integrated, in-house cabin management architecture for its aircraft range, from the A320 family right up to the A380. With the A220 the exception to the rule, the manufacturer says it is observing closely to ensure the model's panasonic CMS meets established Airbus standards, as Paul E Eden finds
Two decades or so ago, there began a dawning realisation among the airlines and wider aerospace industry that the passenger experience was a new and important paradigm in the quest to secure customer loyalty. Since then, air travellers have come to expect and accept an interactive IFE experience and inflight connectivity through their portable devices. Less obvious, but perhaps equally persuasive in defining their experience, subtle cabin changes achieved through manipulating light colour and patterns are also increasingly the norm.
Controlling and optimising these various features, a cabin control system (CCS) or cabin management system (CMS) is the essential modern interface between disparate cabin systems and the cabin crew, with further layers of essential cabin control, monitoring and safety functionality that passengers ought never be aware are happening. Control is generally affected through one or more screens, typically touchscreens, via a detailed graphical user interface that varies with selected CMS functionality.
Airbus, which terms these screens Flight Attendant Panels (FAP), has developed a comprehensive, integrated in-house CMS for almost its entire aircraft range. The exception is the new A220 (ex-C Series), which employs a Panasonic system. An Airbus spokesperson explained: “We provide the cabin management system as part of the basic aircraft design. Cabin crew access it via an FAP located in the galley area.
“The CMS is fully customisable, and Airbus offers a large catalogue of optional functions. These include branding capabilities – lighting, music and digital airline logos – and functionalities specific to individual airline cabin layout. The CMS also includes cabin operational and safety functions.” Looking beyond lighting and IFE, the CMS also has surprisingly large and important safety and operational roles.
“The Airbus CMS is an integrated network, enabling safe aircraft operation and equipping the crew to control and/or monitor all the cabin systems essential to passenger comfort, including the air conditioning, lighting, IFE, passenger announcements and lavatories. Essential safety functions include door monitoring, ‘Watchdog’, a predictive slide deployment warning system, cabin pressure monitoring, slide status monitoring, intercommunication between crew stations, passenger safety messages and evacuation signalling, and passenger communication.”
These basic, essential comfort and safety management, monitoring and control functions are important cabin-wide, but has the increasing electrification of seat/suite functions in business and first classes enabled a greater interaction between the CMS and cabin equipment in those zones?Or perhaps it actually places a greater burden on the CMS?
Airbus responds: “Our integrated CMS allows the addition of features and functionalities depending on airline branding, procedural and equipment needs. As an example, when airlines select our optional electromechanical window shades, the CMS enables crews to raise or lower every shade at the touch of a button.” >>

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