With longer flight times and longer routes, airlines have the intention of converting cargo compartments into entertainment, leisure or exercise areas, but experts warn that there are limits to what can be offered.
Qantas is leading the ambitious charge, with the goal of using the cargo space in the aircraft for its scheduled non-stop flights between Sydney and Melbourne, London and New York.
Over the last few months, the Australian airline has deepened its picture of new passenger experiences: virtual reality relaxation areas, training areas and even stationary bikes, up to a cafe in flight. Sacrificing heavier loads for passenger spaces could help airlines fly further.
CEO Alan Joyce said the carrier was thinking about the concept to get passengers up and moving around.
"There is a lot of blue sky thinking," he said.
To advance its vision, Qantas has opposed aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus.
The nuances of these designs, such as lounges and cocktail bars, have been incorporated for the first time into the Airbus A380, a two-story sky giant that, as announced last week, will cease production in 2021.
But Kent Craver, expert Boeing cabin and interior, in an interview with the To post, wondered if passengers would benefit from a windowless experience, citing psychological studies that helped shape the latest airliner of the American aerospace company, the 777X.
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"The potential of having space is there," Craver said. "Knowing the research we have and this importance of being connected to the outside, [if] you do not have windows downstairs, it's a challenge. "
Craver cited the work of the Emirates airline, which used virtual windows to project images of the sky to passengers. He stated that there is currently no technology to achieve this goal on a large scale.
"I think there is a lot of potential, I think there are probably more questions to answer."
The 777X will compete with Airbus 'longest-serving aircraft, the A350, for Qantas' 20-hour flights.
"Boeing will always listen to what our airlines want. If there is a market for this and that makes sense, we will offer it, "Craver said.
Kai-Chin Shih, expert in aircraft interiors for CAPA Center for Aviation industry analyst, also expressed skepticism.
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"Use the cargo deck for passengers – I'm as skeptical as Mr. Craver," he said. "The idea immediately reminds me of the conversations around gyms and casinos on the A380 more than a decade ago. These never materialized because costs and trade-offs were simply not justified, let alone regulatory issues.
"We should not discourage the industry from brainstorming and experimenting to improve the passenger experience. The truth is that the very long haul is hard to bear, "said Shih. "However, we must always keep in mind Bill Buxton's theory of" Long Nose of Innovation ".
"Considering ideas such as cargo locker amenities on the market in the next few years is simply delusional. Let the visionaries do their work; for airlines, stick to more realistic improvements. "
Shih quoted the Canadian computer scientist who had suggested that innovation was an endless process.
Meanwhile, Boeing is making good progress on the 777X, with its first test aircraft out of the factory for a one-year trial and expected delivery in 2020.
Cathay Pacific Airways, of Hong Kong, has ordered 21 of the largest 777X jet aircraft, the first of which is expected to arrive in 2021 with 10 seats in economy class.
With its foldable wingtips among its special features, the aircraft will be different from the current 777 Classic manufactured by Boeing and operated by Cathay Pacific.
Depending on the configuration that some airlines may adopt, the model's economy class seats can reach 18 inches if carriers opt for narrow aisles and armrests, thanks to new seating technologies.
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Craver said the 777X's experience would be much improved, by inspiring the 787 Dreamliner and raising the bar for flying comfort.
"We have learned to use the combination of architectural lighting to truly expand the psychological sense of space," he added, highlighting a series of Boeing studies on flight psychology travellers.
With windows wider than the current 777, a slightly wider aircraft cabin, interior features such as manual-carrying luggage compartments with straight edges, better airflow and better interior lighting, more great sense of space and an improved flying experience.
"This will have a huge impact on the passenger experience and how they evaluate it," promised Mr. Craver.
According to Boeing, the dreaded central seat allocation on the 777X will not be as bad as we thought, claiming that passengers would still have an impression of space and views on the outside. thanks to larger windows.