There may not be much legroom on airplanes, but there's certainly room for some of the existing and proposed improvements that received Crystal Cabin Awards (referred to by some as the Oscar of aircraft interiors) last week at the Aircraft Interiors Expo show in Hamburg, Germany.
For its potential contribution to greener, lighter airplanes, U.S. cabin component manufacturer B/E Aerospace won an award for a solar-powered window shade now in development that provides passengers with electricity to power personal devices during a flight.
Brazilian jet manufacturer Embraer received a Crystal Cabin Award for some of the innovative design elements in its E2 generation of commercial regional jets. The planes offer both passengers and their carry-on luggage increased personal space.
In the University category, an award went to an aviation studies student from Hamburg University of Applied Science, who worked with Airbus on a lightweight mobile trash container that looks like a cabin service trolley and uses the aircraft's vacuum technology from aircraft lavatory waste systems to compress trash bags and save space.
And for a common-sense invention that has often been wished for in debates over "seatmates of size," German design and engineering firm SII Deutschland received a Crystal Cabin Award for its SANTO Seat, which stands for Special Accommodation Needs for Toddlers and Overweight Passengers.
Designed to be installed in what is typically unused space between the last seat and the aisle on an airplane, the SANTO is a seat-and-a-half with a fully retractable armrest that, according to the design company, "not only offers enough seating space for two grown-ups and a child seat, but also provides enough width for those who, due to their size, have to accept that traveling in a standard economy seat is not an option."