Demonstrating that the coronavirus outbreak has provided opportunity for the aviation sector to innovate, one London design firm has come up with plans for new ‘pandemic-friendly’ airline cabins.

‘Pure Skies’ features seats that change colour when they’ve been cleaned

PriestmanGoode is a renowned, UK-based aircraft interior consultancy that has worked with airlines around the world, including LATAM, Lufthansa, Thai Airways and EL AL.

The firm’s latest concept is a two-class (business and economy) cabin called Pure Skies - designed to address “pressing consumer, business and environmental concerns”.

That means innovative features like installing seats with photochromic and thermochromic inks that react to cleaning substances, therefore reassuring customers that the aircraft has been cleaned.

The concept focusses on three areas:

  • Personal space
  • Hygiene
  • Creating a touch-free journey.

Pure Skies Rooms (business class)

PG’s business class cabin looks a bit like the Qatar Airways Qsuite product - though it features full-height curtains rather than sliding doors.

It also offers:

  • A brand-new seat design with minimal split lines and seam-welded fabrics
  • Antimicrobial materials and finishes
  • Personal lighting and temperature control
  • IFE system synchronised with the passengers’ own devices
  • Personal overhead stowage and personal wardrobe.

The 'Rooms' cabin is described as “a place where passengers can retreat into a protected, screened area, with the highest standards of comfort”.

Pure Skies Zones (economy class)

In economy, dividing screens will be installed at every other row for greater separation, while entertainment screens have been ditched so that passengers can use their own devices.

Other cabin features include:

  • A staggered seat configuration to maximise feeling of personal space and allow passengers to sit in the groups they are travelling in - whether alone, as a couple or in groups
  • Back of seat shells, with no gaps in order to eliminate dirt traps
  • Recline mechanism entirely contained within the fabric skin of the seat to avoid split lines and hard-to-clean gaps
  • Removal of seat-back tray, replaced with a clip-on meal tray direct from the trolley
  • Seat back literature pocket to be replaced with a new, optional removable bag for each passenger, or the option to clip-on their own bag.

The PG team says it “focused on how space in economy cabins had become too compromised and explored how a total re-think of seat features and cabin layout might lead to an improved passenger experience”.

Pure Skies concept billed as a vision for future travel

PG says it is introducing its new products now as it recognises it will take years for the new cabin products to be certified for use. As the design studio explains:

“Airlines’ immediate priorities lie in protecting jobs, capital and resuming services, however as it will take at least three years to develop and certify future cabin products, PriestmanGoode has started to outline what these new products should be to ensure the future success of the airline industry. We’ve looked ahead to imagine future scenarios and taken into account new passenger behaviours driven by the global pandemic to ensure our designs can be implemented within a few years and will meet user and airline requirements for many years ahead.”

Summing up

Design studio PriestmanGoode hopes to steal a march on its rivals, with the release of plans for new cabin concepts that are more suited for the pandemic era (though they will take years to be developed and certified).

Seats that change colour when they have been cleaned sound great for airlines with exacting standards (Qatar Airways, perhaps?), but I’m not sure they’ll be that popular with airlines that don’t have as much confidence in their cleanliness regime.

Both cabins look great, and it’ll be interesting to see whether the Pure Skies concept comes to fruition.

What do you make of the plans, and would you be more comfortable flying an airline kitted out with the Pure Skies interior?