Image via FUCAM

APEX Insight: A team of aviation professionals is developing an aircraft cabin tailored to the Asian traveler.

The International Air Transport Association has projected that the Asia-Pacific market will be the biggest driver of air travel demand by 2036, supplying more than half of the 7.8 billion travelers expected to fly in the next 20 years. This growth is already underway, with China, Japan, India and Indonesia now among the world’s top 10 aviation markets.

As part of Europe’s Horizon 2020 program, European and Japanese companies are collaborating on the future cabin for the Asian market (FUCAM), designed expressly to meet the needs of the Asian market, by looking first to the Japanese customer. “Once the design of the future human-centric passenger cabin is able to satisfy the demanding expectations of the Japanese customers (regarding safety, perceived quality, comfort, connectivity, time and space), it will please the customers in Asia and consequently elsewhere in the world,” FUCAM project coordinator Helge Fromm shared at the Paris Air Show last June.

Established in 2016, the FUCAM consortium consists of nine partners: eight from Europe, including Airbus Group and Airbus in Hamburg, which coordinate the project; Stelia; Mormedi; Bertrandt; Aalto University; Cranfield University; the European Aeronautics Science Network (EASN); and JAMCO from Japan.       

Like Fromm, Kyriaki Panagopoulou, dissemination, exploitation and chief creative officer at EASN Technology Innovation Services, who oversees information-sharing on the project, insists that monitoring the evolution of Japanese needs could help anticipate those of passengers from Asia more broadly, Europe and even around the world.

“This represents a unique opportunity for the EU aeronautics sector to contribute to developing the future airplane cabin.” – Kyriaki Panagopoulou, EASN Technology Innovation Services

Responding to these market trends is expected to help advance cabin architecture, design and systems development. “This represents a unique opportunity for the EU aeronautics sector to contribute to developing the future airplane cabin and, at the same time, leveraging the resources, mitigating risks and establishing a long-term relationship with Japan,” Panagopoulou says.

The team is conducting research into several different scenarios, including cabin class differentiation – namely, in business and what it calls “super economy” – as well as use cases for the lower-deck area that could be marketed for ancillaries. “The first scenario is focused on providing a low-cost dining solution to passengers – one attractive enough to enhance their interest in buying access to the experience provided on the lower deck,” Panagopoulou says.

A second scenario explores alternative on-demand passenger experiences such as a children’s play area, a coffee corner, a yoga and stretching module and even a beauty zone dedicated to personal care and wellness. These, FUCAM stakeholders believe, could be supported through partnerships with household Asian brands that are popular with consumers.

“Target Market” was originally published in the 8.2 April/May issue of APEX Experience magazine.