Unused crown space above main cabin could be converted into business suites and bunks
Boeing is studying radical interior concepts for its proposed 747 Advanced design that would provide space for up to 40 bunks, staterooms, business suites and galley- cart stowage in the currently unused crown space above the main passenger cabin ceiling.
The "Sky Suites" concept would feature on the stretched 747-400 passenger derivative for entry into service from late 2009 if launched in 2006 or early 2007. The concept would allow virtually all the crown space to be used from the rear pressure bulkhead forward to the fairing from the upper deck. Although Boeing has studied an access corridor to connect the upper deck and the suites, it says bulky equipment in the fairing section makes this too difficult.
The company has also revealed a new entry to Door 2 with a sweeping stairway to the upper deck, and a vaulted open space clear to the ceiling of the upper deck with additional windows added to provide a skylight in the crown of the forward fuselage.
Three additional transparencies would also be added to the upper deck belt on the starboard side, with three skylight windows directly overhead creating the impression of a triple decker.
The interior studies are being undertaken to offer additional revenue-creating features without taking up space on the main deck, and stem from double-deck galley studies conducted for the 777. Interior configurations leader Richard Johnson says the changes were made possible by redistributing environmental control system ducting and other systems to the outer edges of the upper crown.
"The main changes were relocating the flight controls from the centreline to the outside," he says. The changes create a 1.88m (6.1ft) tall stand-up space in the crown, reducing to 1.82m under the frames. Boeing says concepts being explored with the airlines include selling economy-class seats to passengers at premium prices who would spend the flight, other than take-off and landing, in the suites.
Although Boeing acknowledges the fully configured upper lobe features could add an estimated 2,270-3,630kg (5,000-8,000lb) to the empty weight, it believes the attraction of such features as 1.5-2.03m-long bunks and business jet-style suites and meeting rooms would attract additional revenue to make up for this.
Boeing 747/767/777 product development chief Kourosh Hadi says the 747 Advanced's 68.6m- span wing will feature simpler, double-slotted flaps in place of the current model's triple-slotted design. Windtunnel tests are planned in 2005 and will be used to evaluate improved lift design changes to leading edges and "other changes", he adds.
GUY NORRIS / LOS ANGELES
Source: Flight International