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Working with United Entertainment Group, Peloton and Reebok, A³ by Airbus Group brought a Transpose modular cabin mock-up to life at San Jose International Airport. Image via A³ by Airbus Group

APEX Insight: A³ by Airbus collaborated with Peloton and Reebok to display a life-sized mock-up of an onboard gym in its Transpose cabin concept at San Jose International Airport. This branded module prototype is part of an ongoing initiative by A³ to find brand advocates for the flexible cabin concept, which could prove the viability of brand-partnership revenue models.

Airbus’ Silicon Valley-based startup A3 has revealed a bold stretch of its vision for the new Transpose modular cabin system. The cabin space disruptors collaborated with health and fitness brands Peloton and Reebok to display a fully functioning life-sized mockup of an onboard gymnasium.

Working with United Entertainment Group, the Transpose team brought the spin class/gym module to life at San Jose International Airport. “Passengers were intrigued and excited when they happened upon the installation,” said Jason Chua, project executive at A³.  “One passenger was thrilled to hop on the spin bike because she ran out of time for her workout and others were curious when they’d be able to board a Transpose aircraft for real.”

Delivering this first branded module prototype with Peloton and Reebok is part of an ongoing initiative by A3 to find brand advocates for the flexible cabin concept, which could prove the viability of brand-partnership revenue models. “One of the most important things about this project is that it’s not just an engineering and design program. It’s a new business model that looks into creating new revenue streams in the cabin,” explained Chua.

“Brands are constantly trying to reach consumers in new ways and airlines are perfect vehicles for that.” — Jason Chua, A³

Brand collaborations could easily go beyond attention-grabbing promotions into viable revenue-building passenger services. Imagine a Panera self-service galley, or an onboard Starbucks complete with barista, or CitizenM berths, or WeWork-sponsored productivity zones. “What we’ve seen is that brands are constantly trying to reach consumers in new ways and airlines are perfect vehicles for that,” said Chua. “In fact, we find airlines are pretty savvy about cross-branding opportunities.”

While such branded aircraft interiors would further complicate the already complex process of traditional cabin design and installation, brand partners could help build “themed” modules. “Rethinking passenger experience requires an open, partner-based approach, drawing from multiple industries,” added Chua.

The Transpose project is advancing and the A3 team is committed to seeing it through. In March of this year, A3 announced the hiring of Alphabet alumnus Travis Mason as A3 VP of Public Policy and Government Relations. Mason will work with government bodies including the FAA, EASA and other regulators on behalf of A3 projects Vahana and Transpose, the Airbus drone lab and the Airbus Corporate Technology Office. At the A3 facility, the full mock-up of the Transpose concept is nearly complete. “In a short period of time, you should see some more workshops, and our initial prototypes are meeting expectations,” said Chua.

Marisa Garcia was once locked in a hangar in Oberpfaffenhofen while fine-tuning Gandalf’s new seats. Seriously. The firemen got her out. Writing is less confining, but she has lovely memories of those hands-on days.