THE GOOD PEOPLE of A3, the California-flavored startup-within-a-multinational-corporation at Airbus, calls it a “low fidelity aircraft,” but I’ll level with you: Its latest experiment went down in a tent in an airplane hangar.
Still, Airbus had loftier goals than the locale might suggest. Researchers armed with Ikea furniture, board games, and plastic-wrapped meals, wanted to know how people would handle themselves if airlines swapped those cramped rows of miserable seats for something more imaginative. They tested something A3 calls “Transpose”—a conceptual modular cabin that offers a bevy of in-flight activities: a facial over here, a latte over there, a spin class up front.
Think that’s weird? Well, once the plane lands, a crew can pop out one interior and toss in a new one, moving things about to create the next flight’s passenger experience.
If this concept, which Airbus did in December, seems too good to be true, that’s because it likely is (more on that in a bit). But unlike many aircraft designs that evoke either hope or horror, Airbus hasn’t tossed this idea into the lavatory trash can just yet. It has six people on the concept full-time, and they’re getting help from 100 engineers and product designers.
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Note: - Nordair did the same thing in 1973 (I remember) swapping from cargo (Frobisher Bay) to seats (Charters to Florida) on pallets, but it wasn't as fancy.
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