Giving berth: Airbus to offer sleep modules in the cargo hold

October 29, 2018

The Netherlands-based aircraft designer and manufacturer, Airbus, has found a new way for passengers to stretch out and catch a few z’s—as long as they’re willing to sleep in the cargo hold.

The company has partnered with France’s Zodiac Aerospace, which supplies systems and equipment for aircraft, to develop and market lower-deck cargo sleeper berths for Airbus A330 jets. They’ will be available to all air carriers by 2020.

The mini cabins—called passenger modules—are being designed to sit on the cargo floor; and to be easily swapped in and out of planes with regular cargo containers during a typical turnaround, if required, the partners said.

The innovation builds on both Airbus’s and Zodiac’s experience in producing and integrating lower-deck crew-rest facilities.

Designs provided by the companies showed rows of double-decker beds on either side of a corridor. Mock-ups also displayed larger spaces for families, medical care, or meetings.

To obtain such accommodations, passengers would purchase a regular seat on the aircraft, paying extra for a bed at a price to be determined by the airlines. They would then access the cargo hold via a staircase.

“This approach to commercial air travel is 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,” said Geoff Pinner, head of Airbus’s Cabin & Cargo Programme.

“We are delighted to work with Airbus on this new and innovative project, which reaffirms our expertise in lower-deck solutions. An improved passenger experience is today a key element of differentiation for airlines,” said Christophe Bernardini, CEO of Zodiac’s Aerospace Cabin Branch.

Airlines either will be able to order new A330 jets fitted with the modules, or retrofit planes already in service. Availability of sleeper compartments on the A350 XWB airliner also is being studied.

Research contact: @Iyengarish

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