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Packing them in

Diehl Aviation sees densification as a major trend and is developing new products to meet future demands

Jan Froehlich, Head of Product Strategy & Cabin Concept/Retrofit at Diehl Aviation, says there is a huge trend towards densification of narrowbody aircraft. While not a new topic, since Diehl developed the Space-Flex v1 (now superceded by the v2 from Zodiac) for the Airbus A320 Family, there will be an upsurge in the number of low cost carriers in emerging countries such as China and India, to be followed by Africa. That demand cannot be met by new production aircraft, so there will be an increase in modification work as a result. There will also be an increase in the service life of aircraft, perhaps pushing out to a third refit cycle.

Diehl has products ready for market and under development that can meet these needs, adding between six and 12 passengers to a narrowbody aircraft. For example, there is SKYPAX, jointly developed with Lufthansa Technik, which integrates galley, lavatory and crew seats in the rear of A320 Family aircraft. The emergency slide housing has been redesigned for reduced volume, while security needs are met with a Digital Direct View Camera System, enabling the crew seat position to be optimised without a view of the cabin.

The first production unit was delivered to Lufthansa Technik in November and will be installed as part of a cabin retrofit for a Latin American airline. Diehl can offer a volume of about 14 shipsets per month as well as to cover temporary peaks if necessary. Under study is a variant for aircraft like the A321LR, where extra storage may be needed for longer flights.

The two companies are continuing to work together, especially as Lufthansa Technik and several important production facilities of Diehl Aviation are located in close proximity to each other in Hamburg, and both companies already use shared premises at the Zentrum für Angewandte Luftfahrtforschung (ZAL, Center of Applied Aeronautical Research), close to the Airbus facility at Finkenwerder, west of the city.

The second product is the Galley-Bar-Module for widebody aircraft. Taking up a double trolley space in the galley but featuring a work top and internal foldable shelves for six standard storage units. The multi functional and multi purpose module can be used as a self service-bar at Door 2 area during overnight or long haul flights, or act as showroom for duty free items. During boarding, the usage as a welcome counter is also one of the usage scenarios. It requires no power supply, as passive cooling is used for ice cubes and beverages, and it is illuminated with fibre optics.

Diehl is also providing its Space Optimized Lavatory (SOL) for a retrofit programme across the narrowbody fleet of an airline in the Americas. This has been reduced from 36.5in, but, while passengers will immediately notice the smaller size, they will find that the optimised room geometry does not restrict movement, as space is made available where really necessary, such as at shoulder height.

Continuing the theme of densification, the company is looking for transferring this to its own products, particularly through combinations of monuments, such as lavatory/galley or lavatory/front row monument, leading to additional space, such as for revenue generation of the airlines by
the possibility for additional legroom for passengers (like for Economy+).

One such concept, shown at AIX earlier this year, is SYLVIA. Designed for the aircraft entrance, the right hand side has a combination of a lavatory and wet galley, with common system interfaces (for water, waste water, electrical systems and air conditioning). The wet galley can be individually configured, with a standard configuration with two ovens, two drink makers, three half-size trolleys, three ATLAS containers, a sink with water faucet, a waste container, and a cabin attendant seat. The left hand side has free space for bespoke use, such as a dry galley with trolley stowage, and an ATLAS container including a work area. Options for this space include a bar area or a privacy module for crew.

Looking further into the future, Smart Galley is a modular galley concept that enables operators to optimise the galley configuration for specific missions, routes, or seasonal requirements, and for aircraft lessors to easily change the configuration for a new customer in a few hours. The electrical system remains the same, but new equipment is automatically recognised when it is plugged in, and the integrated power management system precisely monitors the electrical energy required.

Associated with this is the company’s involvement in the iCabin intelligent Cabin) project (see Aircraft Cabin Management, July 2018), where Diehl Aviation is leading the consortium, concentrating on intelligent cabin applications; predictive health monitoring (preventative maintenance); expansion of crew functionality; digital passenger services; and the intelligent analysis of cabin data. In addition, it is researching into the improvement of materials and surfaces. User interfaces and the monitoring of cabin modules (such as intelligent baggage compartments) will also be researched. The integration of sensors and actuators into the cabin network also forms a part of the work.

In conclusion, he says the main drivers from airlines for their galley requirements are low cost, reliability, and no ‘funky features’.

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