Boeing intends to test-fly a range of developmental digital interior technologies later this year, as part of its SmartCabin programme.

The effort involves technologies as diverse as voice-activated cabin control systems for flight attendants, in-flight entertainment and information applications for passengers, and predictive maintenance tools for ground crews.

Dan Bittner, connected digital systems leader at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, told FlightGlobal at AIX 2019 in Hamburg that the objective was to improve operational efficiency and revenue opportunities for airlines, and comfort for passengers – with the overall effect being like a "smart home in the sky".

He did not disclose what applications would be trialled, what aircraft type would be used as a test platform, or when the features might become available for travellers. This will be determined by airline demand, he says.

Boeing has been testing connectivity applications for some time in a mock-up cabin in Seattle.

Potential features include projecting a night sky onto the cabin ceiling – via "organic" LED displays in the ceiling panels – to represent the sky in the area where the aircraft is flying.

The view from the window could be reproduced on the IFE system and augmented by additional information, for example on geographic features that are being overflown.

Cabin control functions that are currently manually operated by flight attendants – like locking and unlocking of lavatory doors and overhead bins – could be automated in order to enable crew members to concentrate on passenger service.

"The cabin should be able to take care of itself," Bittner says.

For more news, pictures and analysis from AIX 2019, visit our dedicated event page

Source: Flight Daily News