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Cabin Comforts 2011
In a world of 14-hour nonstop flights that not only are possible but sometimes required, the need to arrive rested and refreshed is crucial.
To be sure, amenities such as high-definition monitors, satellite television and high-speed Internet connections can make your ride more pleasant and productive. But what good is all that connectivity if you're sitting on a divan that feels like a wooden chair, or drinking coffee that tastes like stale instant?
A growing number of cabin products are designed to please the senses, soothe the body and make the ride more comfortable. Here's a look at a dozen of the best offerings we've seen in the past year. Perhaps one or more of them could be added to your new jet during the cabin-completion process, or to your current ride during the next refurbishment.
Perfect Espresso at 41,000 Feet
A new galley offering takes the guesswork out of making the perfect cup of in-flight espresso. The machine, from English manufacturer Aerolux, was specifically designed for private aircraft and uses Nespresso's premeasured coffee capsules, which come in dozens of flavors. It also can provide hot water for tea and steam for cappuccino. Made of stainless steel and aluminum alloy, the unit mounts on most standard coffeemaker rails approved for aircraft and interfaces with most water and electrical connections.
A Table at the Touch of a Button
A dining/work table in Gulfstream's new G650 business jet is hidden in the cabin drink-ledge sidewall and can be electrically deployed with the touch of a button. And to make sure you don't accidentally hit that button-returning the table to its hiding place and taking meal and drinks with it-the electrical circuit is deactivated when the eight-inch table leaf extension is folded out.
Cooking Up a New Microwave
You can now buy an executive aircraft version of a microwave oven that MGS Galley Systems designed for the Airbus A350 airliner. The unit-described by the manufacturer as "the most compact on the aviation market"-is particularly appropriate for heating individual meals. It has predefined programs for such tasks as popcorn popping, defrosting and baby-bottle heating and you can add more programs to fit your needs. MGS, an Iacobucci subsidiary in Elchingen, Germany, expects the microwave to be ready for deliveries late this year.
A Massage with Your Movie
Popcorn with a movie is nice, but how about a massage? A new aircraft seat offers just that. "While the passenger is watching a movie, the system responds to the audio with feedback massage movement for a really great interactive experience," explained a spokesman for Aero Seating Technologies of San Gabriel, Calif. The 125-pound seat is now undergoing certification, and the manufacturer expects it to be available for installation in the third quarter of this year.
Smart Windows Get Smarter
Electrically dimmable "smart windows" are gaining in popularity and SPD-Smart e-Shade windows take the technology a step further. The e-Shades-which employ microscopic particles that absorb light when electrically charged-adjust continuously and automatically to the amount of light striking them. Distributed by InspecTech of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., they can be set anywhere between clear and opaque and can maintain a specified level of light entering the cabin at any given altitude or heading.
If the aircraft is sitting idle on the ramp and the cabin reaches a specified temperature, the windows automatically go to full dark. In another mode, the system senses when the landing gear is lowered and shifts to the clear state. If the aircraft loses electrical power, all emergency-exit e-Shades default to clear. There is also an in-flight-movie feature that, with the push of a button, blocks 85 percent of light.
Diverse Divans to Fit
Divans are divans, for the most part, either manually or electrically articulated. PAC Seating Systems appears to have something new, however.
The Palm City, Fla. seating specialist offers 16-g divans available in forward- and aft-facing designs and a U-shaped banquette configuration for corners. Because the configurations are assembled from individual units, they allow versions seating from two to four persons. An aft-facing variant has a telescoping back to meet FAA requirements and a sleeper version has a berthing pan and "a sort of La-Z-Boy sloucher" feature.
Fuzzy Leather Is Sweet to the Feet
Edelman Leather's latest creation is just a bit fuzzier than you might expect. The hides-from cows that lack the distinctive markings typical of some breeds-are shades of beige, gray, brown or black. They are tanned with a "fur-on" process and then cut into rectangles and sewn together in a classic herringbone pattern to create a trompe l'oeil aircraft floor or bulkhead.
The result not only looks attractive but tickles the toes in a most delightful manner, claims the New Milford, Conn. manufacturer.
Lighting That's Easy on the Eyes
Daylight LED cabin lighting replicates natural light with a system that's designed to be easy on the eyes. Controls through the cabin-management system allow variable white-color temperature as well as dimming from zero to 100 percent for the entire cabin or for wash lighting in specific cabin zones. As such, passengers can not only select the intensity of the light but can also choose from a broad range of shades of white. The system is a product of Emteq of New Berlin, Wis.
Leather Collection Pays Homage to Milano
The embossed, machine-tooled Milano Alligatore upholstery leather collection comes in 14 colors, from rich creams to pewter, all inspired by the Italian city known for its place in the world of fashion and design. Townsend Leather of Johnstown, N.Y., offers the alligator pattern in whole hides without pattern-match lines and applies the characteristic finish by hand, which results in subtle variance in design and color.
Zero-Gravity Seat Equals Elevated Comfort
Stressed out? Maybe you need the Zero-Gravity seat, which manufacturer B/E Aerospace claims is the first to place the airplane passenger in "a true zero-g position where the knee-line is elevated above the heart." The position, according to the Miami firm, "is crucial for overall relief of back and bottom stress during long flights." An added benefit is that the position eliminates the forward slipping that can occur when traditional seats are in a reclined position.
Metal Finish with More Flash
HighTech Finishing has introduced several new decorative metal-plating finishes that can give your cabin a distinctive look. The Houston company's Spanish Bronze is an offshoot of oil-rubbed bronze but with a more visible brushed pattern. Another offering is Crescent Gold, which was created when several European completion centers asked for an electroplated finish with a distinctive hue and accurate color consistency. The Crescent Gold is available in polished, satin, pearlite, frosted and hammertone textures.
Carpet Supplier Now Making Its Own
Long lead times are a curse in the executive/VIP refurbishment business, and supplier Kalogridis International has addressed the problem by launching its own carpet-making division. Its high-end carpets are meant for refurbishment projects and are 100-percent New Zealand wool with some silk design elements. There are about 20 designs in the stock collection, all of which are available for shipping within 24 hours. Kalogridis also offers customized lines, which require longer lead times.
In addition, the Dallas company's own looms can produce carpet beyond the standard solid-color, cut/loop variants, according to president George Kalogridis. They can also manufacture linen, cashmere and metallic fibers and can even weave fiber optics into a carpet as a lighting design element.