Mexican automotive component manufacturer Air Design is hoping to attract interest in a bunk bed system to replace conventional seating on long-haul aircraft. Carlos Martinez Celis, commercial design director of Air Design, says work on the Airborne Hotel concept is complete and that the company is beginning to explore commercialising the design.

Mexico City-based Air Design has designed its beds to fit into a conventional Boeing 747 and 777, stacking in either two or three tiers. The Airborne Hotel, which has a US patent, will address fears over deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) and comfort levels, it says.

Moulded from heavy-duty polyurethane, each 0.6m (24in) monocoque "capsule" would incorporate an entertainment system, a baggage stowage locker and emergency equipment. Standard beds would be 1.9m long and accommodate people weighing up to 130kg (285lb), with other capsules available for taller or heavier passengers. Martinez Celis says initial studies show that a 747 cabin could be refitted with eight modules in under 45 days, with a 10-15% cut in capacity. Martinez Celis believes "passengers would pay a surplus for added comfort on long-distance legs".

The company hopes to start structural tests with a full-scale prototype by the end of next year. The company believes evacuation time minima will be met, as the 50% larger aisles and additional emergency exits would offset any additional time needed to climb down from top bunks.

The company envisages airlines adopting a positive discrimination policy, with less-able passengers given the most accessible bunks. Air Design concedes it may take "several years" to convince the airworthiness bodies of its safety.

Source: Flight International