Airplanes are a lot like manufacturing facilities: improving profitability means squeezing as much revenue-generating operation into the smallest footprint possible. In the case of aerospace, more passengers equal more dollars, but there’s only so far they can go to cram additional bodies into the ever-shrinking airplane seat.
But let’s just say there was a way you could spend your flight time lounging – or even napping – in an actual bed-sized bed? Airbus is teaming up with a company called Zodiac Aerospace in an effort to make this happen, but the location they have in mind is a bit unorthodox: this new passenger sleeping quarters will be located in the cargo compartment.
The design is intended to be modular – so a passenger sleeping berth can be swapped in and out when needed, replaceable with a traditional cargo compartment. According to a press release issued by Airbus, the modules will be so easily interchangeable that they can be swapped in and out “during a typical turnaround if required,” as the module sits directly on the existing cargo compartment floor.
The companies expect that the new capability will be available by 2020 for the A330 and that they’re also studying options for use on the A350 XWB – the wider body long-range jet produced by Airbus. Other mock-ups on the site suggest the partnership is considering utilizing the cargo space for everything from medical care to a children’s play area or a conference room.
It all seems like a great use of space but if you finish your entire basement, where do you store your Christmas ornaments? The press release doesn’t detail exactly where an airline’s worth of cargo would go in this case, but I’m sure they’ll figure it out. That, or you’ll have to get really creative with your one carry-on.