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Airlines

Raising the bar

Virgin Atlantic’s new Airbus A350-1000 fleet will feature a completely new interior. Ian Harbison reports
 

The Upper Class cabin has 44 suites in a 1-2-1 configuration and was exclusively designed for Virgin Atlantic in collaboration with the airline’s in house design team. Every SAFRAN Cirrus NG seat is at a 44in pitch and reclines into a fully flat bed. The seats now face towards the window and are fitted with a three-point seat belt. They are covered with leather and decorated with signature Virgin red stitching.

 

Each suite features a cocktail table, shelving and a larger tray table to store personal items. Privacy is assured by higher walls around each suite and deployable screens. There is an 18.5in IFE screen and passengers can connect via Bluetooth. Inmarsat’s GX Aviation inflight broadband solution will allow passengers throughout the aircraft to browse the internet, check social media, instant message and more, with connection speeds on a par with mobile broadband on the ground. All Upper Class suites feature two USB sockets, and an AC socket adaptable for UK, US and EU plugs.

 

At Door 2, there is the largest social space of any business class cabin in the airline, with space for eight customers – twice the capacity of the existing social spaces. Called The Loft, it has room for five seated passengers with seat belts, they can stay there during turbulence) and three standing. A 32in touchscreen monitor and eight Bluetooth audio jacks enable customers to view content together or watch the live tailfin camera. AC outlets are also provided.

 

The Loft was designed collaboratively by Virgin Atlantic and London based Factory Design and is manufactured by AIM Altitude in Bournemouth. AIM created a centre section of monuments with an independent ceiling, which is attached to the monuments themselves, and not to the aircraft structure. The ceiling design separates the area into two zones: an intimate bar area, and a spacious lounge.

 

The concept requires the use of innovative materials and finishes, including a wide range of multi-paint systems, multiple custom-made Isovolta laminates, hard black anodised bar surfaces, black nickel and gold plating. A new Boltaron material was specially designed for the project with a feature pattern interlayered between transparent materials creating a window design that allows passengers to see the silhouette of the activity in the social area.

 

AIM Altitude also created a bespoke LED RGB-W lighting system and custom full-height vertical doors with latches. Also included are a preparation area for the crew, a wardrobe and a stowage unit.

 

The Premium cabin features 56 Collins Aerospace MiQ seats in a 2-4-2 configuration. The 18.5in wide seats, with a 7in recline, have leather covers with intricate stitch detailing and a four-way adjustable leather headrest. There is a full size bi-fold table with a pressed black wool surface and a cocktail tray. Ample storage space includes a side amenity pocket, as well as upper and lower seatback stowage. A 13.3in seatback screen is fitted and passengers can control the IFE with their personal devices.

 

In Economy, there are 235 RECARO CL3710 seats in a 3-3-3 configuration. These are up to 17.4in wide at a pitch of 34in in Economy Delight and 31in Classic and Light classes. Fabric seat covers use bespoke woven fabrics inspired by fashion houses with a high quality wool blend. Six way adjustable headrests ensure comfort. There is an 11.6in seatback screen and a USB port in every seat.

 

In total, Virgin Atlantic will take delivery of 12 A350-1000 aircraft between 2019 and 2021. The first four aircraft will be delivered in summer/autumn 2019 and will fly from both London Heathrow and London Gatwick, with initial flights operating between London Heathrow and New York JFK.


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