A drastic redesign of flights as we knew them to be pre-pandemic isn’t likely, a group of aviation leaders said Thursday, but airlines are working to create more visible indicators of safety for passengers.
Kate Schaefer, Boeing’s vice president of specialty products and services, said during the Aviation Week Network‘s MRO Asia-Pacific virtual conference Thursday that the company has received a lot of questions from airlines and passengers about safety concerns related to single-aisle aircraft. She said she expects, especially for business-class seating, to shift toward a pod-style design with doors for passengers to have more privacy.
Other airlines have received requests from passengers for plastic shields between seating, which Embraer Asia Pacific business development and contracts manager Lais Port Antunes said will need to be easy to clean, environmentally friendly and adaptable in the case of emergency evacuation.
Airlines may also pivot to more touchless devices: downloadable in-flight entertainment for passengers on their personal devices, rather than using those attached to the backs of seating; and touchless faucets, toilet handles and soap dispensers.
But it’s ultimately up to the airlines themselves to decide how they will pack in passengers, and Hean Seng Tan, vice president of commercial business for ST Engineering, said he didn’t expect the industry to reduce cabin density after such a difficult financial hit from the pandemic.
“I think that the airlines are seeing that perhaps the passengers are not going to return back as fast, and they are looking for ways to utilize their passenger aircraft on the longer term,” Tan said. “From the terms of spending, I don’t think most of the airlines are going to move toward refurbishing or buying new seats and changing the way they travel. In fact, I think their key, primary purpose and goal is going to be bringing the passengers back.”