Catering to passengers’ needs is a high priority for airlines, particularly on long-haul flights. The self-service bar has become a popular facility for many premium cabins, but is usually adopted at the expense of passenger capacity. Collins Aerospace is aiming to eliminate this trade-off by turning the cabin door area into an attractive grab-and-go bar.
Transforming underutilized space
Collins Aerospace is well known as an innovator in the field of aircraft design. From technological concepts to cabin interiors, the company has brought many exciting products to the industry over the years. But one particular concept, a winner in the Crystal Cabin Awards in 2019, seeks to add value to an underutilized space.
The M-Flex Duet is what is known as a ‘cabin monument’ – a piece of architecture for the interior of a plane. It transforms the aircraft doorway, an otherwise ignored piece of real estate, into a premium passenger amenity for the cabin.
Collins suggests it could be used as a grab-and-go self-service snack bar, something that is becoming a popular feature of many long-haul flights. The difference with the M-Flex Duet is that it doesn’t sacrifice any seating capacity on the plane, meaning airlines can offer this feature without any loss of revenue.
Jefferey McKee, director of Research & Development, Interiors for Collins Aerospace, commented on the concept, saying,
“Traditionally, the space needed to add this type of service area meant sacrificing seating for the airlines which could mean an annual revenue loss in the millions per twin-aisle aircraft. Our team has created a brand new concept that benefits both the passenger and the airline by offering new amenities in the cabin with minimal to no seat reductions.”
Since the unveiling of Duet, Collins has also revealed a smaller, similar monument it calls FX. And most recently, it has brought out plans for a product it calls the ‘Switch,’ which is designed to sit mid-cabin and tailored for the long-haul narrowbody market.
How it works
M-Flex Duet would be installed as monuments to either side of the aircraft’s door. During boarding and deplaning, the monument remains tucked away, with nothing to see. Once in cruise, the product opens up, blocking the door and turning the space into a snack bar for passengers.
The design is intended to look deliberately premium, turning the otherwise rather industrial space into an attractive, interesting area. Airlines would have the opportunity to brand the white space, if they wished, and to customize the space according to their needs. Collins suggests it could also be used as a staging area for meal service or for additional crew working space.
Collins demonstrated the M-Flex Duet at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg that year. To date, no airline or developer has taken the product further, but Collins says that there has been widespread interest.
Speaking to Runway Girl Network, the company says both Duet and FX have seen engagement from several potential customers, including Boeing and Airbus, both for widebody and narrowbody applications. It notes that, had it not been for the deceleration in development caused by COVID, we would likely see the product flying already.