With modern, fuel-efficient jets able to fly further than ever before, flights are set to get a lot longer in the future. Ultra-long-haul is seen as the next evolution of international travel, but keeping passengers comfortable on a plane for 20 hours or more presents something of a challenge. AIM Altitude’s ULTRAFLEX cabin concept could provide some solutions to this problem.
The challenges of ultra-long-haul cabin design
Going ultra-long-haul is a challenge for airlines, and not just in terms of finding the right aircraft. Putting passengers through journeys of 20 hours or more, such as Project Sunrise intends to do, increases stress on the body and leaves passengers needing more than just an inflight feed.
As Project Sunrise was beginning its planning, Qantas floated all sorts of enticing ideas. Having surveyed prospective passengers for this mega-flight, Qantas received suggestions, including inflight gyms, a work area and even virtual reality relaxation suites. However, ultimately, these were considered to be unviable.
However, one concept has laid out a plan where such amenities could well work their way onto the plane of the future. ULTRAFLEX by AIM Altitude was unveiled at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in 2019, and presents some interesting solutions for a more flexible aircraft cabin.
Space to move
AIM Altitude describes ULTRAFLEX as a ‘visionary space’ that offers some answers to the needs of passengers enduring ultra-long-haul flights. The idea is that passengers are free to move around the cabin, enjoying different zones and a wealth of facilities, giving it more of a cruise ship feel than your typical aircraft cabin.
AIM is not suggesting airlines include all the elements of the ULTRAFLEX cabin on one aircraft. Rather, it has designed each monument as a stand-alone, modular piece, which can be combined or individually incorporated to cater to the needs of that particular airline or route.
The first monument brought to this vision is the ‘community space.’ This is a place for passengers to meet and socialize within an open space in the cabin. Its oval formation and multipurpose seating are conducive to conversation while also alleviating the strains of sitting in one position for an extended period. Excitingly, the central units or ‘trough’ can be customized to become a daytime café or a cocktail bar for evening events.
Next, AIM presents the Deli Galley, a grab-and-go style catering unit. This is somewhat reminiscent of the snack bar sometimes seen on long-haul carriers, but takes it to the next level. An extended height refrigerated unit displays all the food in a visually appealing way, allowing passengers to cater for themselves as the need arises.
Not just about food and drink
While the idea of socializing and having free and easy access to food and drink is great, what really got us excited was some of the wellness provision this cabin concept brings. AIM has designed a ‘flex booth’ which can transform into different spaces depending on the requirements of the airline and passengers.
In wellness mode, the booth can be cleared out to give passengers space for stretching or yoga. In focus mode, the area would feature privacy and soft fabrics for prayer, contemplation, or meditation.
And then, to make it even more versatile, a fold-down bench puts the booth into ‘dine mode’ with a table for two, or as a private meeting or working space. The company suggests passengers could book the booth in advance, or via the IFE onboard.
For those who have business to do on the flight, the company has presented a novel concept for staying active while working. The three exercise stations offer the opportunity to do low resistance exercises with your feet while sitting at a workstation. AIM suggests these could incorporate a cycle seat, step plants and a massaging muscle roller, keeping the blood flowing on the long trip.
Put all together, these elements can be combined into an exciting addition for any ultra-long-haul flight. Although the capacity for the space is somewhat limited, ULH flights tend to fly with fewer passengers out of necessity to achieve the range. Because the system is modular, it can also be installed more than once on a plane, or separate elements replicated throughout the cabin.
What do you think of ULTRAFLEX? Let us know in the comments.