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You’re upgraded! Now go and sleep in the cargo hold

April 12, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Passengers flying on Airbus aircraft will soon be able to stroll down into the cargo hold and go to sleep.

Airbus and Zodiac Aerospace are developing sleeping compartments that resemble those in progressive and advanced airports, Singapore’s Changi for instance, which provide quiet spaces where passengers can get some shut-eye between flights. The airline versions, however, will fit inside the aircraft’s cargo compartments.

Officially known as “lower-deck modules”, they should suit passengers on the lengthy journeys made possible by today’s long-range, fuel-efficient airliners. The new 17-hour Qantas marathon non-stop flight from Perth to London is a good example, though as Qantas uses Boeing 787-9s on the route, the Airbus sleeping compartments won’t work for it.

Airbus Zodiac module mock-up


Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce raised the possibility last month of specially designated sleeping areas on planes, saying the airline was studying passenger rest options for ultra-long-haul flights.

The Zodiac Aerospace development looks to be a real breakthrough. The new passenger modules will be easily interchangeable with regular cargo containers during a typical turnaround if required – so airlines will be able to replace cargo with sleeping compartments or vice versa.

Moreover, the aircraft’s cargo floor and cargo loading system won’t be affected, Airbus says, as the passenger module will sit directly on the cargo floor. Presumably the module is housed in some sort of pallet, the containers used to load freight.

The head of Airbus’ cabin and cargo program, Geoff Pinner, described the new approach to commercial air travel as “a step-change towards passenger comfort”.

“We have already received very positive feedback from several airlines on our first mock-ups. We are pleased to partner with Zodiac Aerospace on this project which will introduce a new passenger experience and add value for airlines.”

By 2020, airlines will be able to choose from “a catalogue of certified solutions” on Airbus A330 planes for retrofit and line-fit markets. The possibility of sleeper compartments on the A350 XWB airliner is also being studied.

Airbus and Zodiac Aerospace say the innovation builds on their combined experience in producing and integrating lower-deck crew-rest facilities.

Written by Peter Needham

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