“Ride-sharing, in the old days, was everyone hopping in the VW bus to see [the Grateful Dead’s] Jerry [Garcia]. Now it’s about getting a seat on a King Air 350i ”
Creating a more comfortable cabin is a never-ending goal for the builders of business and private jets and their suppliers. Seats have been redesigned so the passenger no longer slides forward when they’re reclined. Carpet makers have created new designs in blends of silk and wool that entice the passenger to walk barefoot. Lavatory mirrors are on gimbals so they can be tilted to accommodate everyone, tall or short. Showers have become a standard option in larger airplanes and LED lighting is no longer unusual.
And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, it does. Here are some of the latest cabin-comfort-oriented trends and innovations to catch our eye.
Showers are becoming commonplace. Few in-flight luxuries are more desirable than a hot shower before you arrive at your destination—especially if you’ve been airborne for many hours. Once an option only on large reconfigured airliners, showers are becoming available on a growing number of smaller, ultra-long-range, large-cabin business jets.
A standup shower is now a standard option on Bombardier’s Global 6000, and with a range of nearly 7,000 miles (roughly 12 hours in the air), 40 minutes of hot water on that airplane equals a lot of luxury. Showers will also be available for the forthcoming Global 7000 and Global 8000.
Last year, Dassault announced that it had designed a standup shower for its Falcon 7X, the largest of its business jets. The shower includes a seat, a rain-style showerhead and an electro-chromatic privacy feature that lets you change the clear glass window to opaque in seconds. It provides 30 minutes of shower time.
On its new G650, meanwhile, Gulfstream is offering a shower that delivers sufficient hot water for an hour of use. A digital panel shows the amount of hot water remaining. The shower is situated to one side of the cabin to allow full access to the aft baggage compartment.
Designers are doing more with leather. The tooled leather walls created for 16th century Franco/Italian noblewoman Catherine de Médicis and the French noble families of the era have prompted Townsend Leather to develop a Grand Damask design. The leather supplier describes the Médicis damask as “classic in feel but updated.” It comes in eight colors and the 27-inch-by-27-inch panels are handcrafted with shimmering, foiled accents and hand-applied striations.
Edelman Leather, meanwhile, has introduced a Leather & Lace line, inspired by the work of artists from Belgium, Hungary and Slovakia and transferred through the use of laser etching and cutting technology. Drawing on the die-cut felt work of Jasper Morrison, Dutch designers have introduced to the Moooi, Broog and Vitra lines hauntingly elegant chandeliers by Diller Scofidio & Renfro for Swarovski, and the collections of Prada, McQueen, Louis and Lanvin. Edelman’s artists describe the results as both “chic and fun.”
A child seat combines safety and comfort. Shouldn’t kids be accorded the same in-flight safety and comfort as adults? The folks from Gama Engineering think so, and have introduced what they bill as the “first child’s seat certified for takeoff and landing in most business jet configurations.” The seat, which can be customized to match cabin colors and fabrics, accommodates children up to 39 inches tall and weighing up to 44 pounds.
According to the UK-based firm, the seat has been approved for installation under European Aviation Safety Agency supplemental type certificates for a wide range of corporate jets, including those manufactured by Bombardier, Dassault and Gulfstream.
Gulfstream clears the air. Gulfstream Aerospace’s new G650 offers a separate exhaust system for the lavatory to efficiently remove unwanted odors. The main component of the system—which is now standard on the G450 and G550 as well—is a semicircular vented aluminum tube mounted just under the toilet-bowl cover. Lifting the padded seat automatically activates the exhaust, which can also be turned on with a switch.
A cup holder holds promise. For decades, designers have created cup holders with the mistaken idea that one size fits all. Cups and glasses that are too small tip over while those with a handle won’t fit. And with bottled-water suppliers now displaying a penchant for odd shapes, such as the square Fiji water bottle, cup holders can lead to a game of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
Cup Inserts Inc. to the rescue! The company has a patent pending on aluminum inserts that adapt to hold virtually any size or shape securely. Plus, they neatly fit into any existing cup holder with a 2.75- to 3.5-inch diameter and an inside depth of at least three-quarters of an inch. This means the insert can secure almost any cup or glass, even a 12-inch-tall wine glass. It can also be installed quickly and can be moved from one cup holder to another, regardless of differences in size, without drilling or modification of woodwork. The inserts are available in 10 standard finishes, with a custom finish or with no plating at all.
The Legacy 500 introduces a multipurpose seat. Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer opted for a new executive seat from B/E Aerospace for its soon-to-be-certified Legacy 500 midsize business jet. And the emphasis is on comfort.
The standard eight dual-club seats are manually articulated with 360-degree swivel and extended floor tracking. Each set of facing seats fully reclines and slides together to form more than 26.5 inches of full-flat napping surface.
Those who need more than a snooze may want to choose the optional, three-place side-facing divan. When extended, it forms a comfortable bed. For even greater comfort, you can add an optional second facing divan. When both are extended, they meet to form a bed with about six feet of sidewall-to-sidewall luxury.
Stand by for better humidity levels. Stand by for better humidity levels. In the typical business jet cabin, humidity is generally no more than about 3 percent. That’s not good, especially on long flights, as studies have shown that dry air in the cabin contributes to the post-flight fatigue commonly called jet lag. Very low humidity is particularly bad for passengers suffering from diabetes, heart problems or respiratory difficulties, and those who are on certain medications, such as blood thinners.
Fractional ownership giant NetJets liked the idea of a more comfortable humidity level enough to consider a proprietary cabin humidification package on Global 6000s still to be delivered by Bombardier as part of a major aircraft order.
Liebherr of Switzerland has designed a cabin and cockpit humidification system based on a boiler system to produce pure water vapor. It is available in both Bombardier and Gulfstream business jets.
CTT Systems of Nykoping, Sweden, is the major supplier of cabin humidification systems for larger bizliners, with its Cair technology. Cair includes the company’s Zonal Drying system to counter condensation problems.
The Liebherr and CTT Systems technologies provide for cabin humidity between 10 and 20 percent.